This letter was written by Charles M. Ray (1828-1912), the son of Myron L. Ray (1804-1881) and Laura Bristol (1803-1876). Charles was married to Amanda E. Doud [or Dowd] (1828-18xx) in the late 1850s and had a young daughter by the name of Mary Amanda Ray that was born on 11 December 1860 in Conesus, Livingston county, New York.
Charles enlisted in August 1862 at Livonia, New York, to serve three years in Co. G, 130th New York Infantry. The regiment left New York on August 6, 1862, and arrived in Suffolk, Virginia, on August 13 where it was assigned to the 1st Division, VII Corps of the Army of the Potomac. The 1st Division was commanded by Gen. Michael Corcoran. The 130th New York was engaged at the Battle of Deserted House and took part in the Siege of Suffolk in April and May 1863. The regiment was converted to cavalry on July 28, 1863, and designated as the 19th Regiment New York Volunteer Cavalry. The 19th Cavalry was officially re-designated as the 1st Regiment New York Dragoons on September 10, 1863. The 130th New York had the distinction of being the only Union army volunteer regiment which was converted entirely from infantry to cavalry during the Civil War. Charles mustered out with the company in June 1865.
Charles wrote the letter to his friend, Dudley M. Reed (1829-1884) of Conesus, Livingston county, New York.
March 15, 1863
I received your letter yesterday & was astonished to find it was from you for I thought certainly you had forgotten all about me, but I see it is very easy to be mistaken. We are encamped near Suffolk where we have been all winter. We have a nice camp here—sandy and a little rolling, so it is dry. We have but little cold weather here & very little snow. No such cold weather as you have there.
My health is good. I have not been sick but very little. [Isaac] Scutt is in the hospital. They two Sylarters [Allington and Christopher Sylvester] boys & Frank[lin] Barnhart are well. [Samuel] Lucius Doud, Billy Sliker, & Marvin [or Marion W.] Lindsley are my tent mates. William Maring [or Manning] is in the hospital.
We have pretty good times—something going on all the time to kill trouble. Have you been doing much at wood & lumber the past winter? Does David work for you now?
Justus [F.] Coy is our first sergeant, called orderly. He is well & a first rate fellow too.
Mrs. Reed, you want to know how I like soldiering. There is some duties I don’t like very well such as being out on picket in storms & sometimes without fire, on outposts. The most of a soldier’s duties I like very well—better than the fare.
I had a box sent to me & I am going to have them send me a few things soon. I shall write home today. Maria tells me my little girl is growing fast & talks about me. How I want to see her. It seems a good while since I left home & if I live, it may be a good while before I see them again but I hope this cursed war will soon be brought to a close. I guess there is but few soldiers that is not tired of it & the way it is conducted.
I shall have to close as it is time for dress parade. Excuse this short letter & all mistakes. I will try & write more next time. From your friend, — Charles M. Ray
Direct [to] Charles M. Ray, Co. G, 130th Reg., N. Y. S. V., Suffolk, Va.