Regrettably, this partial letter does not include the signature of its author who was a volunteer in Co. A, First Battalion, Black River Artillery (later Co. E, 10th New York Heavy Artillery). The artillerist wrote the letter to his parents who were most likely residents in or near Ellisburgh, Jefferson county, New York. Most of the members of this unit were recruited from either Ellisburgh or Henderson.
The letter was written from Fort Richmond, a five foot thick, three-tiered embattlement at the water’s edge facing New York Harbor on Staten Island. It was latter renamed Battery Weed in honor of Brevet General Steven Weed who was killed at Gettysburg. After the war it was renamed Fort Wadsworth.
Fort Richmond [Staten Island, New York Harbor]
Sunday, December 7th 1862
It is with pleasure that I improve the present opportunity in writing you a letter for I know you will be glad to hear from me though I write but little news. Well Father, the weather is pleasant today except a cold wind last night was pretty cold—the coldest we have had here. Last Friday night it snowed a little—just enough to cover the ground which is frozen now.
Well, this forenoon I helped to move the sick from the guard house where they had been for a few days while they have been repairing the hospital. They have got it fixed very comfortable for the sick now. A large proportion of the sick are from our company. One of our company by the name of [Eli A.] Hatch ¹ we removed. I told them when we moved him that he would not live an hour and sure enough, he died within fifteen minutes and we carried him back a corps. He has been in the hospital about a week. He had not been expected to live for 3 or 4 days past. We have just taken up a contribution to get a coffin for his remains & send it home. We paid 25 cents apiece.
I understand they are agoing to discharge 7 or 8 out of our company. Mr. H[omer N.] Hendee, H[enry] Donelson, H[enry] Claflin, A[ustin] Van Wormer, Charles Cushman, F[rank] Herrington, and Pliny Reed (you needn’t say anything about it but some of the boys that you are acquainted with get discharged. Just see how long they are sick after they get home). Some of the boys have got the Scarlet fever & some the mumps and there are but few in the battalion but what have got a cold and some pretty hard ones too.
The sea breeze does not seem to agree with some. It seems to be too strong for their lungs. Among those whom you are acquainted with who have got hard colds on the lungs are M[artin] D. Swan, Wm. Wood, A[lonzo] M. Bullock, [and] I[ra] Kemp but I am well & feeling first-rate. I take as good care of myself as I can and as long as I continue to do so, I guess I shall be tough. I am about as tough as any of them now.
[end of letter missing]
¹ Twenty year-old Eli A. Hatch enlisted as a private on 21 August 1862 at Henderson, New York, in Co. A, First Battalion, Black River Artillery (later Co. E, Tenth New York Heavy Artillery). He was mustered into the service on 11 September 1862 to serve three years. He died of disease on 7 December 1862 at Fort Richmond, New York Harbor.