1864: John Stamford Thompson to George Thompson

This letter was written by John S. Thompson (1845-1927) of Co. G, 156th New York Volunteers. John enlisted in August 1862 to serve three years. He was captured in action on 19 October 1864 at Cedar Creek, Va. and paroled on 27 February 1865 at Wilmington North Carolina. He mustered out of the service on 15 June 1865. After the war, he returned to Ulster county, New York, where he resumed his career in the meat-packing industry. John’s parents were George and Gertrude (Berger) Thompson.

John wrote this letter to his father in June 1864 from “Morganzia”—a low-lying Mississippi river town nearly thirty miles from Port Hudson.

John Thompson’s Signature overlaid a photograph of Union Encampment at Morganza Bend on the Mississippi river [Library of Congress]

Addressed to Mr. George Thompson, Rondout, Ulster county, New York

Morganzia, [Louisiana]
June 8, 1864

Dear Father,

I received a letter from you some time ago and have neglected to answer it. I lost it the other day on a march. We had [gone] back in the country and it was a tough march too. We were gone four days and we seen quite a number of rebels a running around in the woods but they had fast horses and our cavalry couldn’t catch them.

One night we marched till twelve o’clock. We were going through a very thick woods and the first thing we knew, about one hundred rebels opened on us. The balls whistled round our heads pretty thick for one volley but we blazed away at them in between. But they wouldn’t stand. We had three men wounded in our regiment. The rebels lost three killed and nine wounded and we took some prisoners. One of the prisoners said they thought our guns weren’t loaded but they were mistaken for we was cocked and primed for them. The general that had command of us give our regiment praise for returning their volley so well.

We destroyed two sawmills and a pontoon bridge for them. That will hurt the Rebs a good deal here for them were [the] only sawmills they had around here.

We were paid some four months wages yesterday. I sent home thirty dollars with the Adams Express Company. I think it will be in Rondout as soon as the letter gets there. When you write, let me know if you have received it. The rest I kept for my use. I think I need it here. You needn’t be afraid of me a spending it for liquor or gambling it away. I haven’t gambled not one cent away nor drunk any liquor—only what the doctor gave me when I was sick. I remember what you told me the night I left home. Any time I see one a gambling, I think if what you told me that night. That money what I have got, I will take good care of it.

We only get half rations here. Before we got paid off, I went to bed often hungry. But when I have got money, I won’t go to bed hungry. This morning I had a good breakfast—some boiled potatoes, a boiled mackerel, and a loaf of bread and some pork grease. That’s what I call a good meal here. I would get fat if I had it every day.

This is all for this time. Goodbye. From your son, — John S. Thompson, Co. G, 156th Regt. N. Y. Vols.



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