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CIVIL WAR
LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

OP

FREDERICK TOMLINSON PEET



WITH THE SEVENTH NEW YORK REGIMENT
Private in Co. h, April 18th— June 3rd, 1861



WITH FIRST (BERDANS) SHARP-SHOOTERS
Second Lieutenant of Co. H. August 1st. 1861— July 2nd, 1862



PRISONER TO THE CONFEDERATES
July 1st— July I8th, 1862



IN THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

Second lieutenant. June 14th, 1862— August 31st, 1864

First Lieutenant, September 1st, 1864— August 28th, 1869



FIFTY COPIES— PRIVATELY PRINTED



Newport
1917






PREFATORY NOTE

The following letters, having been given
to me by my uncle, it appears to me that
they should be printed, in addition to the
Reminiscences which I had the pleasure of
printing in 1905. Any such simple and
spontaneous expressions of feeling from
one engaged strenuously in the war must
always be of intense interest, and added in
this case are the numerous evidences in
the letters of the affectionate feelings exist-
ing between the members of the family,
which it is always pleasant for his relatives
to recall. It is most unfortunate that these
letters should end so abruptly, and that
none should be available which were writ-
ten during the interesting cruise upon the



4 PREFATORY NOTE

Niagara, in which he was engaged during
the last year of the war.

The other papers which are printed, in-
cluding commissions and orders, it is be-
lieved will add to the interest of the letters.

R. T.

Newport,

December, 1916.



ON THE WAY TO THE FRONT 5

The Phila., Wilm. and Balto. R. R. Co.

Office of Master of Transportation,

Apl 20th Philadelphia 1861

10 O'Glock A. M.

Dear Mother & Father

We arrived here (Phil) about 3. this
morning the Mayor of Baltimore has re-
fused to let us pass, and so we have waited
until the present time none knowing
whether we were to fight our way through
Baltimore or take a road from Haverde-
grass to Washington. If the former we
expect to fight if the latter we may get off
a little better. I am all right and so is
Henry. A girl named Margaret Matcollm
or some such name gave me her hanker-
chief. We have had all kinds of things
showered upon us prayer books and bo-



NoTE-The 7th Regiment of N. G. S. N. Y. left New
York April 19th, 1861, for Washington.



6 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

qucts etc. etc, but I have no more to say

except that believing am doing right I go

forward with God's blessing.

Your affectionate son

Fred
Give my love to all.

I have no time to write more



Apl 21 & 22, 1861 Apl. 61

Annapolis Harbor Monday

Dear Mother & Father,

So far so good if we except the accommo-
dations, which are more like the middle
passage of a slaver than anything else I
know of. But I forgot to tell you. We left
Philadelphia on the Steamer Boston Satur-
day afternoon at 3. and have been on the
water ever since. The Boston is a small
steamer made to hold about 700 persons so
you may imagine what a display we make



ON THE WAY TO THE FRONT 7

about 12 o'clock at night; every available
spot is covered with a soldier. I have not
taken off my clothes since we left, to give
you an idea how we sleep would be be-
yond my power, last night I had on beside
my overcoat my knapsack, bayonet, a
great tin canteen, a body belt Cartridge
Box, cap box, & cap, besides having my
pockets filled with all kinds of things.
The first night we laid over at Philadelphia
not being able to go on through Baltimore.
I did not sleep the least, and about 3 in the
morning most of us were astir and paraded
through the outskirts of the city with a
drum, calling for Coffee, the people put
their heads from the windows in their
night caps, (and I never saw such an ugly
set of people) and soon came down and
gave us all we wanted. In the afternoon
we marched from one side of the city to



8 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

the other and there embarked on board
the Boston. Sunday was passed on the
water. We had a sermon from Chaplin
Weston which I liked pretty well, although
have heard better from Dr. Cutler. Yes-
terday we expected to sail up the Potomac
to Washington but as one gun from the
Enemy could knock our machinery use-
less, and we had no armed escort we find
ourselves at Annapolis instead of the Po-
tomac. Not one of us knows which way
we are to go, nor have we since we left.
The Boston Regiment is here in the har-
bor, and they keep drilling all the time.
Every moment you can see the bayonets
gleam as they are shifted from one side to
the other ; the upper deck of their boat is
covered with them. The frigate Constitu-
tion is here and looks finely. Col Lefferts
has had an interview with her Commander



ON THE WAY TO THE FRONT 9

& also with the Commander of the Boston
Regiment, Mr. Butler. On the fort in
Annapolis the Stars & Stripes are flying,
while little boats are huming around and
remind me very much of Bridgeport Har-
bor. We expect to go ashore & march to
Washington but nobody knows anything
about it. The drum is now beating the
Sergeants call, to give them the necessary
commands. We should have been in
Washington yesterday morning if we had
not been obstructed by the pulling up of
rails. I will write you more when in
Washington. I wish I could give you a
faint description of what we sleep on. A
great many of the men had mattresses
while others managed to find some tents
stowed away and used them for beds. I
was lucky enough to get one of the latter,
and laid down all right, although rather



10 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

cold, to take my sleep, but as a fellow I
knew came along I gave him half and it
wasnt long before I was crowded almost
off, half on the dirty floor & half on the
dirty canvas ; the next night I sleep on the
hard boards; but I must leave off as we are
called to posts to receive orders.
Give my love to all

Your affectionate son

Fred.



I have numbered the pages, I hope you
can read it.

Washington D. G. Apl 29th 61.
Dear Father.

We arrived here last thursday morning
after the most fatiguing journey I have
ever experienced and are now safely an-
chored in the Hall of Representatives,



IN CAMP AT WASHINGTON 11

where I am now sitting with some hun-
dreds of others engaged in writing letters
& cleaning accoutrements ; while I write
Harry Hubbell is cleaning his on the steps
of speakers desk ; this appears to be almost
a desecration. We sleep in the Room &
Halls around it. and recline on beds of
damask curtains & Turkish carpets laid
down as best suits our inclinations. But I
will take up my account where I left off
when I wrote you last, which letter I was
almost ashamed to send, but I had no op-
portunity to write one more satisfactory.
We entered Annapolis on Monday after-
noon about 4 oclock. & would have been
ashore sooner had not the boat which held
the Massachusetts men been aground. As
it was we landed, & then sent and took
them from their boat; and when sufficiently
lightened drew her off. Before we had de-



12 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

termined where and how to land the com-
mandant of the yard came ahoard & had
some conversation with Col Lefferts. As
his yacht touched our hoat his fore top
mast was carried away by coming in con-
tact with some of our tack. He (the com-
mandant) is a tine looking old gentleman
rather short with white hair and broad
high forehead and dressed as neatly as a
pin. Oh how I appreciated his clean
linen, for during the last week my portion
had truly been among the pots & kettles I
had been sleeping on the bare floor with
may be a half dozen boots near my head
and dirty barrels scattered promiscuously
around, lying sometimes in water and mud,
drinking bad water and worse coffee with-
out milk or sugar, and having for dinner
pork or a little dried stringy beef, & crack-
ers hard as rocks ; and to clap the climax



IN CAMI' AT WASHINGTON 18

having to wait patiently about an hour A. a
half, jammed up in a line <>f men, holding
in my hand a tin plate <x cup. Such is the
misery of a New York volunteer; although
it has rather improved since our arrival, as
we have dined at the Hotels and called for
almost everything we wished; but I believe
we have had our last meal of that kind as
provisions are running short. Hut to go
back to my story we bunked on the floor
in the naval school buildings with our arms
by our sides expecting an attack. The
night before we left we had quite an excite-
ment. About ten Oclock the drum beat to
arms and in eleven minutes we were all
drawn up on the ground, with our artillery
in readiness while all the middies were out
in full force armed with two cannons while
each had a sabre & revolver. It all hap-
pened on account of some mistake about



14 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

the signals sent from the Frigate Constitu-
tion, relative to the approach of the enemy,
The fleet of vessels sent from New York,
"Baltic." "Harriet Lane" etc. having ar-
rived we misunderstood the signal and
took them for a fleet of the enemy. Our
mistake was soon found out however, and
we seperated with orders to be packed and
in readiness to march at a moments notice.
I did not sleep any that night, nor had I
since I left had three or four hours com-
fortable rest. The grounds at Anapolis
are very beautiful, but not quite as much
so as West Point. The day we arrived the
superintendant shut up shop and called all
the children in, expecting an attack, but
as they found we were not so inclined they
soon made their appearance with all kind
of eatables and sold them at a price that
would astonish any sensible man ; 6 cents



IN CAMP AT WASHINGTON 15

for a small apple, 50 cents for a little pie.
but a little broader than the width of this
sheet, and other things in proportion. I
should think we left them quite a little for-
tune, especially as Uncle Sam was obliged
to buy some dozen carts and a score of
horses, which I heard were sold at equally
exorbitant prices. On Wednesday morn-
ing we left Anapolis, the Massachusetts
men having for two days previous taken
possession of the depot and laid rails to the
length of five miles or more which had
been pulled up ; they also put a locomotive
together, which had been taken to pieces
by the secessionist, and then steamed it
themselves. They are great boys, they
can put their hand to anything. As I was
saying we started about nine or ten on
Wednesday morning and such a tramp as
it was it would be impossible to give you



16 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

•an adequate idea of it. Our march for the
first part of the day was through the hottest
sun I ever felt. I suppose we felt it more
as we were loaded down with belts tin cans
& a musket, at all events it almost killed
some, many of them falling down and
being picked up by the Locomotive which
with three cars brought up the rear; our
knapsacks were packed in the cars, other-
wise we could not have walked half the
distance. Two or three men were par-
tially sun struck but by four oclock we
were blessed with a thunder storm after
which, it grew more and more chilly until
we arrived at the Junction. I wish you
could appreciate my feelings but I know
vou cant unless you hire somebody to stir
vou up with a stick when about to fall to
sleep and on the way keep you awake for
five days and nights, and then cover your-



IN CAMP AT WASHINGTON ;"

self with all kinds of straps and march
over twenty miles, all day and all night.
As we stopped at the different station sev-
eral horsemen could be seen watching us.
We marched two abreast, in all about 2000
strong, and as we wound around a curve in
the road it was a beautiful sight to see, as
far as the eye could stretch on either hand
a long bristling line of bayonets glittered in
the moon light and at a halt the scene
would instantly change from an army in
motion to one in camp, the boys would fall
down on the damp ground in all kind of
postures and scatter as far as the sides of
the road would permit. And when the
order would come down the ranks to "for-
ward," those on the ground would have to
be stirred up by the other and sometimes
preferred staying. One of the drummers
was left in this way and when found he



18 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

was retracing his steps towards Anapolis,
having in his sleep heen turned about so
completely that he did not know which di-
rection to take. I caught a stiff neck and
had a slight headache but was free from
any trouble about my ancle. The line of
March was as follows : Two companies
were sent ahead to clear the way, after
them came the engineers to rebuild the
bridges by the tracks, and lastly the main
body with scoutes sent out on either side.
Ahead of the main body were two howit-
zers. Although we all expected an attack
as the nature of the ground would have
permitted one with a good chance of suc-
cess, none occured ; we have subsequently
heard that some 2000 men were hovering
on our flanks all the way but dared not
venture to attack us. We reached our
journeys end, about five oclock Thursday



IN CAMP AT WASHINGTON 19

morning, took cars from the Junction to
Washington where we arrived in due
course of time. We were escorted by the
Washington Riflemen, a fine looking corp
of men, who said we had been expected
for some days and the people were much
excited about us. We remained in the
depot forming into column for about a half
hour and then marched up Pennsylvania
Av. to the white house, where we were
honored by the presence of Mr & Mrs
Lincoln ; we then retraced our steps and
were soon lodged in the different Hotels,
the one which had the honor of the 8th
Company was the National. After dinner
and a wash we were marched to the Capi-
tol. Saturday Lincoln his two little sons,
Sec Cameron and some others reviewed us
when we all took the oath, it was one of
the most solemn sights I ever beheld, the



20 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

men were drawn up in this shape \ / and
then a Major in the USA read it while
we repeated it with our right hand raised,
the closing sentence was, "So help me
God." all the men spoke out plainly and
deliberately as if they meant what they
said. In the oath we swore to uphold the
Constitution obey all the officers placed
over us and to battle for our Countries
honor & against all enemies of the govern-
ment whosoever they might be. Yester-
day "Sunday" we had divine services at
10 1-2 A M & 7 1-2 P M. in the morning
by our Chaplin and in the evening by some
strange preacher, whom I liked very much.
The Times correspondent gave us quite a
speech, also a member from New York.
I have forgotten his name. In the after-
noon Abe Lincoln & Wm H Seward came
in and addressed us, after whom Cassius



IN CAMP AT WASHINGTON 21

M Clay favored us with his presence ac-
companied by his batallion. One of the
Mass. men shot himself in the foot, which
was subsequently amputated, a subscrip-
tion was raised by our boys for him ; also
one of our boys shot himself while on the
march to the Junction. We have five or
six men now in the Capitol who were
caught stuffing bombs in the Navy Yard
with sand, one was shot on the spot as he
attempted to draw a revolver on the men.
My watch has gone I dont know where, if
I had some money to spare I would put up
an advertisement, with some slight hopes
of getting it, as it is I see no hopes as
toward ten thousand men are now in the
Capitol. Charley has arrived and is at the
navy yard although I have not yet seen
him. If he has any money to spare I will
borrow of him and then repay him if it is
found.



22 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

I forgot to tell you that When we arrived
the Washingtonians were delighted to see
us; half of them would not take any money
from us, but gave us all we wanted, every
body came up shaking hands and saying
"God bless you" as if they had known us
all for years ; they were in a great state of
fever before our arrival, expecting a visit
from Jeff Davis, but if I dont stop now I
dont know when I will. Tell Hattie,
Mother, John, Mr Taft, & Sarah, & Will-
iam that I have received their letters which
were very welcome ; send them this as I
think it is large enough for all.

Your affectionate Son

F. T. Pbbt, Jr.

Direct my letters to 8th Go.



IN CAMP CAMERON 23

Camp Cameron May 10, 61
Dear Father,

The bearer Charles Juny is one of my
messmates & a very fine fellow, as he
came on on furlow I gave him your ad-
dress & asked him to stop in and see you.
I received your letters, the latter having
enclosed ten dollars, which was very ac-
ceptable as I have to pay for my washing.
Tell Wm. I received his letter & will ans-
wer it as soon as I possibly can do so. I
have tried for three or four days to get
time to write a long letter, but I have as
yet been unsuccessful even now I am all
cramped up, & the boys are commencing
breakfast.

I will write soon to you and Wm.

With love to all

I am your affectionate son

Fred



24 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

Camp Cameron May 22 61
Dear Father.

I received your letter a few days ago.
It is now 4. P. M. Inspection has just
passed and for a wonder we are not called
out this afternoon until 4.30. when we will
fall in for our evening parade which has
become quite an institution for the ladies
and gentlemen of Washington, even now I
am interrupted by Charleys coming in and
telling me that Forrest fr New York is on
the parade ground. You would be sur-
prised to see the crowd of ladies that come
to see us drill. I have been introduced to
several but the trouble is that the best
looking is so passe as to have been married
several years.

I went down town today on purpose to
pay a visit to Mr. Corbin, but as Charley
was with me we agreed to go to Mr. La-



IN CAMP CAMERON 25

lowe first, when we bid him good by; it
was 15 minutes to 4. the time when we were
to be at quarters, so I have been obliged to
pospone it. and may not have time to go
again to town.

May 23

I have not been able to finish this, but I
write now to tell you that we have just
been presented by a flag fr the New York
ladies & also that we are under marching
orders to be ready in half an hour for
active service ; it is now 10 m pas 7 P. M.
& at 8 we must be ready ; there are many
surmises about our destination, and we
may not go at all but my time is almost up
and I must say Goodby

Your

Affectionate Son

Fred



26 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

P. S. Tell Wm I received a letter from
him today. I expect to ans him next
week.

love to all



IN CAMP CAMERON 27

Note— June 3d the 7th Regt. was mustered out of the
U. S. Service. Soon after he accepted an offer of a position
as 2d Lieut, in Berdan's Sharpshooters.



Colonel H. Berdan having been author-
ized by the War Department to raise one
or more regiments of Sharpshooters for
three years or the war, with authority to
designate company officers and authorize
them to recruit, and having designated me
as Captain with authority to recruit a com-
pany and to appoint subaltern officers
thereof subject to the approval of the War
department,

I hereby appoint Fredk. T. Peet Jr 2d
Lieut, of the company now being raised by
me and authorise him to recruit men for
the corps known as the U. S. Sharpshoot-
ers commanded by Col. Berdan, such re-
cruits to be attached to the company to be
commanded by me as Captain.
16th Sept. 1861 Geo. G. Hastings

Capt. 3d N. Y. Compy U. S. S. S.



28 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

Camp of Instruction Oct 24, 61.
Dear Father,

I received your letter to night. I have
been to see Sec Welles he said that if he
should see Cameron he would speak to
him of me. I thought that was rather
slim, at all events there is but little chance
for me, so I think you had better send me
my green uniform and have it made as
warm as possible. I am satisfied as I am :
I may as well see the Union go to smash
when in the volunteer as in the regular.
We all feel rather discouraged here to
night. Rumours are afloat that McLellan
is taken prisoner, Banks division has been
cut to pieces, and himself taken, while
there are 5000 rebels on the Maryland side
of the Potomac. The North has not and
will not be awake until it is too late.
When in Washington I called on Miss



IN CAMP CAMERON 29

Wright, and Cousin Ned. # I am much
better pleased with an officers life than
with a privates. The only trouble is that
there is no one for me to have any fun
with. Last evening there was some sing-
ing in Gapt. Johms tent but I was away
and did not participate. I met Mr. An-
drew Nisson at the Navy department and
gave him a note to Wm. to have my box-
ing gloves sent on. I wish you would send
some warm gloves when you send my
clothes. Gapt. Hastings has had some
good things sent here, such as sardines ale
claret etc; as I dont drink anything but
water it is all lost to me. I am very glad
to hear that Rebekah is working for the
soldiers but I would rather fight than work
as I told Libby when she wanted me to
pick berries for them. Be so good as to

•Col. Edward H. Wright on Gen. Scott's staff.



30 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

send my green suit on as soon as it can be
done, and let me know the day it is
shipped as I must go to the depot and
attend to it myself if I wish it done for
some bundles have remained for weeks at
the Express Office. Send boxing gloves &
woolen gloves in the same bundle ; I am
obliged to go on dress parade with my blue
sack.

Mr. Coit is our Chaplin but the Second
Regt has none yet.

Your affectionate Son

Fred.
Did you wish me to write to Mr Morgan
if I was unsuccessful in getting the appoint-
ment

Can yon send me some silk hankerchiefs



IN CAMP OF INSTRUCTION 31

Gamp of Instruction Oct. 26th 61.

My Dear Father,

Things look brighter since my last letter
I neglected to tell you when writing, that
while talking with Cousin Ned in Gen
Scotts Headquarters he mentioned that
there was a vacancy in the Marine Corp
He was then about writing to a friend to
obtain it if possible for him, at least to
mention the facts of the case, although I
suppose he could do but little towards the
obtaining of it. I told Welles that I should
highly prize a position in the Marine Corp
if it could be had as I had heard that there
was a vacancy. He replied that there was
none, so I gave up for lost. Cousin Ned
came up to see me this afternoon and said
that a personal friend of his, a Capt in the
Marine Corp had told him again yesterday



32 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

(25th inst) that there was such a position
vacant. Ned then asked about the exami-
nation ; the Gapt replied "that if Ned rec-
ommended any one he (the Gapt.) would
see him through, as he (Gapt.) was the
Chairman of the Board of Examiners."

Cousin Ned tells me not to give it up
but to write to you & have it put through.
It is a situation if anything better than in
the Common Infantry I believe there is
better pay ; at all events there are but two
or three regts of them in the service. You
will understand it is one of the best stations
in the Regular Service. Be kind enough
to put it through Ned says he understood
that there would be some two or three
other vacancies in a little while.

Dont let this hinder my Green Suit, as I
am getting very shabby looking. I paid a
call on Miss Mary Wright last night.



IN CAMP OF INSTRUCTION] 33

I guess that you will be surprised when
Harry Hubbell comes back an Aid to Gen
Wright ; he must not get ahead of me, so
pray have the Appointment in the U. S.
Marine Corp for me.

Your affec Son

Fred.
Send on my green clothes as soon as pos-
sible and also some buck gloves. Ned
said he would withhold his letter to his
friend until I had tried my luck.



Camp of Instruction Oct 31, 61.
My Dear Father,

Your letter of the 30th I have just re-
ceived. The letters from Mr Morgan Mr.
Terry and yourself I received last Tuesday
afternoon. I immediately acknowledged
the receipt of Mr. Terrys. I intend writ-



34 CIVIL WAR LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS

ing to Mr Morgan as soon as I can conve-
niently do so, thanking him for the interest
he has taken in me, and telling him of my
unsuccess.

Wednesday morning at 1-4 before eleven
I was ushered into the presence of Mr
Welles ; he was engaged for a few minutes
during which time I was engaged in one of
the clerks rooms. In a short time owing


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Online LibraryFrederick Tomlinson PeetCivil war letters and documents of Frederick Tomlinson Peet → online text (page 1 of 9)