This letter was written by 21 year-old Albert Pierce Ingalls (1842-1875), the son of Joel Ingalls and Laura Ann Wright, of Tyngsborough, Middlesex county, Massachusetts. Albert was employed as a stone cutter when he enlisted on 2 July 1861 as a private in Co. C, 16th Massachusetts Infantry. According to the regimental history of the 16th Massachusetts, Albert was wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks and was mustered out of the service on 27 July 1864. An article appearing in the Boston Traveler on Saturday, June 21, 1862, gives Albert as one of the wounded in a skirmish with the rebel pickets on 18 June 1862—a few days after the Battle of Fair Oaks. A subsequent article appearing in the Boston Herald on 23 June 1862 states that Albert was “wounded badly in the wrist.”
However, author Alden Ellis, Jr. in his book, “The Massachusetts Andrew Sharpshooters: A Civil War History and Roster” (page 222), identifies this same Albert P. Ingalls of Tyngsborough, as have enlisted on 17 March 1862 in the First Company of Andrews Sharpshooters—his service credited to Boston. This regiment was originally recruited for Col. Hiram Berdan’s Sharpshooters, but when the men learned they would have to forfeit their enlistment bounty, they declined and remained independent. Apparently Albert was used as currier until he deserted on 29 August 1862 and was captured by the Confederates and made a prisoner of war at Fairfax Court House, Virginia on 23 September 1862. After he was paroled and sent to Alexandria, there was no further record of his service with the sharpshooters.
Clearly Albert’s service history is muddled and I cannot find two different soldiers from the same area with the same name. Could he have served in both regiments?
Two years after leaving the service (1866), Albert married Grace Selder (1846-19xx) but they did not enjoy many years together. He died of diphtheria on 8 June 1875 at Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Albert addressed to letter to “Mrs. Littlehale” whom I am certain was Hannah Letitia (Blodgett) Littlehale (1827-1866) of Tyngsborough. Hannah was married to John Littlehale (1820-1897) and heroldest son was John Dudley Littlehale (1847-1924) who is mentioned near the end of the letter as “Dudley.”
Headquarters 3rd Army Corps
August 31, 1863
I was very happy to receive your kind letter today. I was surprised to find that I had one friend left to write to me from Tyngs Woods. I am well and hope this will find you all the same.
I have seen some hard times since I came back but not half as hard as the boys in the regiment. I have not been with my regiment but about one month when I first came back. I was detailed at Corps Headquarters on Provost Guard and have been here ever since first June for the guard. I do not have to go into a fight atall. The guard guards the general’s headquarters back in the rear.
I have seen some hard fighting, I tell you. I have seen the men fall like ten pens but I have been lucky enough to keep out of those places. There is but four of us left of the 25 that came out from Westford and 3 of us are detached from the regiment. Out of 68 that left the Junction, there is but 8 left. I tell you that is taking out the boys pretty clean. I hope that the rest of us may live to get back to tell the tale.
I have traveled over 1,000 miles since the 11th of June. I tell you, that is some traveling. We went through Maryland—that is a pretty state, I tell you. It looked nice to see all the wheat and corn growing. I see more grain in Maryland that I ever see before in my life. There is plenty of pretty girls through that state but there was not much chance to spark them for we did not stop more than one night in a place.
We are in camp near the Rappahannock river at Bealton Station. There is some girls round but the damn officers are round them all the time and nigger wenches I am down on. I often wish myself at home, Last year at this time I was having good times at home but now there is not much fun to be had.
We are waiting for conscripts and I do not see but what we shall have to wait a long time before we get many. There is a few comes along once in awhile but slow. If we have to wait for the army to fill up with conscripts, I do not think that we shall move very soon. But we are under marching orders now. We are ready to march at a moment’s notice. The news is here tonight that the rebels are in Maryland again. I have got a nice horse and saddle. I ride round more than half the time but there is no girls to ride with. Soldiering is played out. There is no fun in it.
I think that if I was at home, I could keep more of the girls from starving for the want of a beau. I think that Liz is trying to get Alonzo on the string again. I guess that there will not be much chance for me with Zebiah by the time I get home. I suppose that Otis lays at the hole most of the time.
As I did not have time to finish this letter last night, I will try and finish it now. The weather is quite cool. The nights are too cold to sleep alone and I have hard feelings in the morning. Never mind—I shall get home the first of next July and then I think that something will ache.
There is some talk that our regiment will go home the first of April. I wish it would start tonight for Boston but I some expect that our Corps will go to Texas soon. I hope that it will. I want to see some of those Texas girls. I think that I could do military duty if I was at home, well as ever. I never do anything in that line out here.
I think that Tyngsboro [Mass] has done a big thing. They have sent [only] one man…to help us out of this job. I suppose that they are all too good to go for a soldier. They used to tell me when I was at home that this war was a good thing to get rid of the bummers and rum drinkers [from the community]. I guess they would like to have a few more there now to send in their place. There will be another draft by and by that they cannot get out of by paying $300. I should liked to have been at home just before the draft to see the boys shake. They are more scared that the boys are out here in a fight. Tell Dudley that he had better stay at home if he knows when he is well off. I used to think that it would be a big thing to go off somewhere but I know better now. There is no place like home.”
Our regiment got 200 conscripts last night but I did not know any of them. I suppose that business is good at home now. I heard something about John and Frank carrying on stone business together. Is that played out or not yet?
I cannot write any more for I cannot think of any news at present. I do not know as you can read what I have wrote. Give my respects to all.
Respectfully yours, — Albert P. Ingalls
U. S. Army
Please write often and direct [to]
A. P. Ingalls
Headquarters 3rd Army Corps
Washington D. C.