1861-62: Thomas Ledwich to William Patrick Ledwich

These two letters were written by Thomas Ledwick (1840-1885), the son of Irish emigrants Robert Ledwich (1807-1870) and Bridget Louth (1810-1884) of Glen Falls, New York. Thomas enlisted on 7 May 1861 to serve two years in Co. E, 22nd New York Infantry. He mustered out of the company on 19 June 1863 at Albany. He saw subsequent service in Co. A, 2nd Vet. Cavalry. Thomas was by occupation a lumberman. He hd grey eyes, black hair, and a dark complexion. He stood 5 feet 8 inches tall. After the war, Thomas relocated to Pottawattamie county, Iowa, where he became a lumber merchant.

Thomas wrote the letters to his older brother, William Patrick Ledwich (1835-18xx). He was married to Ada V. Smith on 1 June 1864 in Dixon, Lee county, Illinois. In the letter, Thomas mentions a younger brother named James Emerson Ledwich (1844-1927). James enlisted on 21 November 1861 in Co. K, 96th New York Infantry. James recovered from his illness and fought with his regiment through the Peninsula Campaign and the Wilderness Campaign, rising to the rank of 1st Sergeant.

The envelope of Thomas Ledwich’s letter contains a free frank signature by US Congressman James Harper Graham of New York State.

Addressed to Mr. W. P. Ledwich, Dixon Lee Co., Bremen, Illinois

Upton Hill [Virginia]
November 24, 1861


I answered your kind letter as soon as I received it and was in hopes you would return the compliment in some reasonable time but I have given up all hopes of corresponding with you any more. Even if you did not get my letter, you might know I would answer it as soon as possible. That’s about all the comfort a soldier gets these cold nights is writing or playing. We’re getting along pretty well—plenty to eat, such as it may happen to be, salt junk or beef stake.

I hear from home now and then. They are all well as usual. I have been pretty prudent this summer for a soldier—more so than the most of the soldiers. I have sent home $30.00 since U have been in service and 20 last winter. That is not much but it’s very well for me. If you are getting anything wh___ I will help the old folks as well as I can. I suppose you know a soldier has to spend something for necessaries. Some of the soldiers are behind since they have been in service.

[There has been] no fighting here of any account. Two of our boys was shot on picket the other day. Our regiment went out to see if they meant it and we came back without any fun with them. Some of the officers think we will remain here all winter. I hope not. I want to go to South Carolina to see Charleston burn. Some of this division is going. Our general has been promoted. Keyes—one of the colonels—is acting as general at present.

Please write if you think worthwhile. No more till you answer this. Yours with respect. From your brother, — Thomas Ledwich

Direct to Washington in care of Capt. [George] Clendon, 22nd Regt., Col. Phelps, colonel commanding. Edward Pruyn, adjt.


Upton Hill, Va.
[January 1862]

W. P. [&] Sis,

Your kind letter is at hand which I take the opportunity of answering it as I have nothing to think of this evening. I received a letter from Father this evening. Did not like the news so well. James is sick in the Plattsburg Hospital. He is out of his head. Father was going there that day. The folks are all well at home. He thinks his boys has forgotten him entirely. I tell him I think not nothing of any importance concerning the war since I wrote before Burnside’s fleet has started out. We anticipate a dead shot when that gets to its destination.

Everything is neutral along the lines at present waiting to hear from the fleet. Some of the Sesesh had given up the ghost and come into our lines not far from here. They say we are whipping them as fast [as] possible laying where we are. They think they will be starved out by the Spring if they are not tuffing [?] them. There are one capt., one sergeant included in the squad.

The soldiers are anxious for a fight but don’t like to face Bull Run. I would like to be excused. I think we will whip them without going there.

Write to Father pretty often until this war is over. He is afraid we will all get shot whether or no. He is getting childish in his old age. Keep him easy if possible. We have just got our pay. I am stead as a clock trying to save my money—what I can of it. Have done pretty well so far.

Write soon oftener. Yours truly, — Thomas Ledwich –your brother, the soldier boy.

Have not read your paper through. Think it is a go ahead paper so far.


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