1864: Hosea Paul, Jr. to Parents

How 19 year-old Hosea might have looked in 1864

These incredible ten letters were written by Hosea Paul, Jr. to his parents while working as a paid volunteer at the U. S. Christian Commission at City Point, Virginia, during a six week period in the fall of 1864. Since Hosea was an impressionable young man with keen observation skills—and blessed with sufficient time to record them—the letters offer us a rare opportunity to look into the inner workings of the Commission at this critical supply point. While there, Hosea visited with and wrote often about Sylvanus Cadwallader—the now famous correspondent of the New York Herald, previously of the Chicago Times, whose embellished reports on Gen. Grant unjustly tended to fuel the stories of Grant’s penchant for excessive drinking in the field. Cadwallader was the husband of Hosea’s cousin, Belle Paul.

The following biographical sketch was lifted from the catalogue records of the Western Reserve Historical Society:

“Hosea Paul (1845-1923) was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, on January 17, 1845. His parents, Hosea and Ellen Gamble Paul, were early settlers of the region, traveling from Vermont to Ohio in 1834. Hosea, one of the youngest of seven children, followed his father’s and older brothers’ professional interests in surveying and trained under their tutelage. While Hosea’s father and brothers served in the American Civil War, he managed the family’s surveying business, completing Summit County maps and surveys.

“After 1864, Hosea Paul participated in relief work for the Army of the Potomac, City Point, Virginia, and from 1865 to 1866, he surveyed Oil Creek and Pithole, Pennsylvania. Returning to Akron in 1866, Paul served for a period of time as City Engineer and County Auditor. During his surveying career, he prepared city maps and atlases, including ones for Wabash County, Indiana, and Cleveland, Ohio. He worked for fifteen years in railroad surveying and construction in Detroit and Toledo and served as assistant engineer for the Cleveland Park System and as Deputy Surveyor for Cuyahoga County.

“In 1875, Hosea Paul married Emma Plum, whose family members were early settlers in Cuyahoga Falls. Well-read and intelligent, she accompanied her husband on many of his surveying travels in the Midwest. Their only child, Katie Eveline, died of diphtheria at the age of ten. Emma died in 1913 in Cleveland of heart failure. Paul took office in 1913 as Cuyahoga County Recorder, being familiar with land division and transfer laws, and he was easily reelected in 1916. During his tenure as County Recorder, he proposed that the Torrens System, a progressive system of land transfer laws, be adopted by Cuyahoga County. He held his position of County Recorder until his voluntary retirement. During his later years, Paul was elected to the Board of Education in Cleveland and was a founding member of the Cleveland Engineering Society. He was also active in the City Club and the Cleveland Real Estate Board and was a director of the Associate Investment Company and the Summit County Bank. Paul was well-known for his historical addresses and writings regarding the pioneer settlement of the Western Reserve and the history of oil development.” [Western Reserve Historical Society]

The U.S. Christian Commission Station at City Point, Virginia


City Point, Virginia
September 3, 1864

Dear Father & Mother,

I staid up near the headquarters of the [U. S. Christian] Commission near General Hospital until yesterday and had nothing to do. Yesterday being the day of assignment, I was—at my own request—detailed here which is the General Depot where everything is first brought & delegates first report. But the quarters of the Gen. Agent & accommodations for a large number of delegates are at General Hospital about a mile further up. ¹

I do not think I will have much to do here and my work will principally be in keeping storehouse in order & perhaps doing some writing and acting as kind of assistant to the agent. The delegates at General Hospital are almost entirely preachers and whose who are not are theological students. They are going among the wards trying to convert the men, conducting prayer meetings, distributing religious reading matter—mostly testaments, tracts, & religious papers, & to some extent, delicacies. ²

They are going to send 140 boxes peaches per day to this point. Have had a great many peaches since coming from Philadelphia & expect to have all I want to eat during the season.

Papers two days old are eight cents. Frank Leslie twenty. Harper’s Weekly fifteen, &c. &c. My expenses thus far have been about seven dollars. I don’t see as I need to spend much while here as Mr. [Ferdinand VanDerveer] Garretson [from Perth Amboy, N. J.] —the agent, a Yale college student—wants to  take charge of ware room until Mr. [John A.] Cole [of Medway, Massachusetts], Gen. Field Agent, gives me a wider field.

Day before yesterday, in company with a delegate from New Jersey, I went up to the 10th Corps—that being the nearest & he having friends in it. I saw them firing a 13-inch mortar at Petersburg which was in plain sight, and also they kept firing a battery of 3 30-pounder parrots. The firing was quite heavy & returned to some extent by the rebel works about a mile and a half off. About a mile—or nearly that—lay our advanced picket line, separated from that of the rebels by the Appomattox [river]. The 10th Corps is the extreme right. Most of the fighting is on the Weldon [rail] road about 15 miles from here. I went out six or seven, rode out in wagons & ambulances, but had to walk most of the way back.

Contraband outside US Christian Commission

Our cavalry started out on another big raid to cut a new [rail] road the rebs are building across from the Danville to the Weldon Railroad. They started at 2 a.m. & we have no intelligence from them so far.

There is a large contraband camp here close by. They have Sibley tents & work on the docks. Have seen many black troops but not many together. The explosion a few weeks ago was a terrible thing. The Sanitary Commission has several barges here & issues on surgeon requisition almost entirely, Will write again.

— H. Paul, Jr.

U. S. Christian Commission
City Point, Va.

¹ “The establishment of the Christian Commission, in connection with the General Hospital of the army at City Point, surpasses anything of the kind ever set up in the Army of the Potomac, or any other army in the world. The rude diagram opposite, though better than nothing, will convey to the eye no adequate idea of the extent or imposing character of this establishment. Imagine, first, forty acres of Hospital on the high south bank of the Appomatox, a mile or more from its confluence with the James. Fronting this, at the end nearest City Point, stand the fifteen tents of the Christian Commission, in the order laid down in the diagram.” [From Annual Publication by Christian Commission, 1864]


² In The Annals of the United States Christian Commission, Lemuel Moss wrote that once the station was set up at City Point, the Commission kept “from fifteen to thirty Delegates constantly employed” for the remainder of 1864.


City Point, Virginia
September 14, 1864

Dear Father & Mother,

I am improving very much in health. This afternoon I went to Headquarters to find [Sylvanus] Cadwallader & found him in his tent. He is chief correspondent of New York Herald in this army and  remains at headquarters nearly all of the time. Uncle Daniel ¹ carries dispatches for him to Baltimore & is here every third day & will be here tomorrow night.

Belle ² was down here a few days about the time I came here so I could have seen her. Ed. Paul ³ is with Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. If I want to see things now, I have a very good chance. When Belle was here, she had a fine time indeed—a steamboat at her disposal &c. &c.  Cadwallader’s quarters are not over sixty rods or a quarter of mile from here and he will do most anything for me. He has a nice ambulance, saddle horses, & the reporters have stations at the various corps.

I saw young Bonsteel of Northampton today. He is in Capt. Lewis Prior’s Company. Lewis Prior run Jame’s Mill in the winter of ’56, I think. In that company are several “rangers” Pardee’s Prior’s &c. & Amos Wills who is now sick. I gave them quite a lot of stores.

Your son, — Hosea

¹ Daniel Jewett Paul (1807-1887) of Northfield, Vermont; later Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

² Mary Isabella (“Belle”) Paul (b. 1833) was Sylvanus Cadwallader’s second wife. She was the younger sister of Cadwallader’s first wife, Catharine Rosamond Paul (1828-1856).

³ Edward A. Paul was captain of Co. F, New England Regiment in the Mexican War. He was in the Civil War as a correspondent for the New York Times



City Point, Virginia
September 15, 1864

Dear Father & Mother,

This afternoon [Sylvanus] Cadwallader came over & I went back with him and staid until nearly dark. He has a very comfortable and quiet place situated in some finely laid out grounds in tolerable preservation, and altogether the prettiest place about the Point. He is the only correspondent about Gen. Grant. The correspondents of other papers are mostly at the front with Gen. Meade or the various corps. But the Herald is the only paper which has an organized corps under one man. Those of the Tribune, for instance, each reporter goes on his own hook.

Cadwallader has a correspondent with each corps and also with each division of cavalry. ¹ Their reports reach Cadwallader about nine o’clock & he either cuts them down or sends them by a messenger to Baltimore where it is delivered to another messenger and thus hurried thus to the Herald establishment. If important news it is carried to Washington & telegraphed or it is often telegraphed from Baltimore. This private express system is peculiar to the Herald and Cadwallader says he was forced to adopt it as Stanton would give him no facilities—not even such as he gave to other papers. In fact. Secretary Stanton would not give him a pass & he stays here, I suppose, on Grant’s influence & special order permitting him to do so. But since the adoption of the private dispatch line, he says they are all disposed to accommodate him. But as it is less expensive than telegraphing & answers every purpose, he is not likely to change.

The messengers to Baltimore, of which Uncle Daniel [Paul] is one, get fifteen dollars a week & expenses paid & have almost nothing to do—nothing at all, only to receive their dispatches here & place them in the hands of the messenger at Baltimore and he gave me to understand that I could have such a place. Uncle Daniel will be here tomorrow night.

I want to hear from home very much. Roberts letter of the 7th which arrived Sunday is all I have had. Please advise me immediately if you get any money from me, or fail to get it, when I speak of enclosing any. It is very expensive to run a mess down here. Watermelons are worth from $1 to $2. I saw one this afternoon such as four men could eat easily [and it] sold for $1.25. We have had several of them.

[missing page?]

a little can of condensed milk of which we have sent out hundreds every day, sells for 75 cents &c. &c. But there is very little they have, not even excepting liquor, but with which we are not usually well provided, and if we only had a first rate cook, as we soon expect to have, everything will go nice indeed. This month is the most unhealthy month in the year.

I am not well yet but I think I am improving. The work of the Christian Commission is of growing importance. Shipments of stores from Washington are very much increased—so much so we hardly can dispose of some of the stores they send unless they send more men (delegates). I have hardly seen a woman or a dog or a buggy and no cats at all since I have been down here. The women I have seen are either hunting after somebody dead or very sick, or are nurses in the hospitals. And the nurses are essentially strong-minded & could edit a newspaper, keep a large store, or run a farm. Reinforcements are constantly arriving, many of them colored troops, substitutes, &c. They have lots of bounty jumpers, deserters &c. brought in every [day].

I enclose $5. Affectionately, — Hosea

Sylvanus Cadwallader of the New York Herald

¹ “Cadwallader’s New York Herald force was the largest—made up of correspondents who were veterans all and deployed to cover every contingency. James C. Fitzpatrick, who had been captured and held briefly by Mosby’s guerrillas early in May (1864), monitored the City Point scene and Parke’s Ninth Corps; W. D. McGregor and William H. Merriam were with the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James, respectively. In the Army of the Potomac, Solomon T. Bulkley—for two months a prisoner in Richmond’s notorious Castle Thunder—rode with the cavalry; L. A. Hendrick, whose reporting had included Antietam and Gettysburg, was with Warren’s Fifth Corps; and Finley Anderson, who explained his professional motivation with the words, “I want to see,,,what kind of stuff I am made of,” travelled with Hancock’s Second Corps. In the Army of the James, John A. Brady checked in from the Eighteenth Corps, while Thomas M. Cook—another Gettysburg veteran—covered the Tenth Corps beat.” [The Last Citadel: Petersburg, June 1865-April 1865, by Noah Andre Trudeau, page 204]


City Point, Virginia
September 17, 1864

Dear Father & Mother,

I feel very ell now. I went over and saw Uncle Daniel [Paul] last night. He goes to Baltimore this morning, leaving here about 10 a.m. & Fortress Monroe 4 p.m., arriving in Baltimore tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. starting on his return at 5 p.m., ad arriving here the following day at from 4 to 6 p.m.

He gets 15 dollars per week & expenses and he manages to make about twenty dollars per week which is, I suppose, more than he ever made before. He began the last of June. Edward’s house was completely ransacked and everything destroyed at the time of the raid. He was down here at the time.

We are now receiving larger quantities of stores than we can well dispose of unless we have more delegates, stations & teams. We usually send out four or five 4-horse wagon loads each day. Yesterday morning a party of rebs got within 3 or 4 miles of here and drove off 2500 head of cattle. It was a bold operation certainly and there were many confused rumors about it yesterday. A force of cavalry was sent out to intercept them—probably too late. The cavalry force in this army is small, having mostly gone with Sheridan.

Mr. Nicholson, one of the delegates stationed here, is likely to have the typhoid fever.

I am yours affectionately, — Hosea


City Point, Virginia
September 18, 1864

Dear Father & Mother,

I received yours of the 11th last night, also a Beacon. I am very well now and think I will be. I went over to Cadwallader’s Tent this afternoon. Uncle Daniel [Paul] ws there, not having gone on his usual trip to Baltimore as one of the correspondents was going North.

I am glad to know there is some surveying to be done, but do not think it will amount to much until farmers have more help to change fences &c. When I came through Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, the morning after I left home, the 30th of August, much of the corn was ready to cut & some of it was cut.

You may give Mr. Delano one of my photographs & try & get one of his. How are our crops prospering?

It is three weeks tomorrow since I left home. I shall not stay in the [Christian] Commission over six weeks and will begin to think about getting off the 1st of October.

Col. Voris of the 67th OVI “is well spoken of down here.”

Is there any McClellan enthusiasm in Ohio? The feeling for McClellan in this army is smaller I think than usually believed. The only Ohio regiments in this army are the 2nd and 6th Cavalry, 13th, 62nd & 67th Infantry. The latter as you remember is Col. [Alvin Coe] Voris’ regiment. Col. Voris is well spoke of down here. I have not seen any boys I knew anything about except some from Northampton in the 6th Cavalry.

I do not spend any money here, nor have I any occasion to do so. We have very good eating now as we have sweet potatoes—Irish too, commissary beef, Graham bread &c. but as for special cooking, it is very poor. We often have apples, peaches all the time &c. &c.

The contraband camp close by is a great nuisance and probably renders it unhealthy here. Rev. Mr. Nicholson has gone to Fortress Monroe & if his health does not improve, he will go home to Boston, Mass.

This army is being largely reinforced. People down here seem to be more confident of final success than they are in the North, yet also, some of the “victories” we gain are losing operations. For instance, the 2nd Corps got the worst of it decidedly at Ream’s Station some weeks ago, and many regiments acted very cowardly. A few mornings since a rebel “raid” was made through our picket lines & come within 3 or 4 miles of here & captured & drove off 2,500 cattle. They wanted the cattle or else they could have scared City Point very much. A cavalry force was sent in pursuit but was too late.

It is not so lonesome down here as it was before I found Cadwallader & Uncle Daniel. I was getting very much so, There are many curious things to write about—trees, flowers, &c. &c. but it would take a long time to write about them.

Yours son, — Hosea Paul, Jr.


City Point, Virginia
September 20, 1864

Dear Father,

I now feel pretty well.

Hosea’s father, Hosea Paul, Sr.

This army is being largely reinforced. The 6th Corps is said to have returned from the Shenandoah. An order was issued by Gen. Grant today announcing the tout of Early by Sheridan. It was read to the soldiers this afternoon and tonight our batteries are to open along the whole line in honor of the victory.

I do not go around much here, Everything looks so much the same as the thing you saw just before—tents, teams, & bare ground. No grass or fences, fields or gardens. The contrabands close by sing every night which is somewhat annoying to us. They have Sibley tents and the tents almost touch each other. There is much sickness among them. They seem very anxious to learn to read and some of them have already learned to read right along.

I have found a very good hat in a box which was sent to a soldier but we do not know & cannot find out who sent it or to whom it was sent.

The [U. S. Christian] Commission have sixteen wagons—ten of which are four-horse, seventy horses, teamsters who get $40 per month, a wagon-master $60 & about fifty delegates. [There are] six down here—two in the office, one in the reading tent (who is the chaplain &c.), & three more in the store room. [There is also a] Pennsylvania doctor who does not stay around much of the time, the agent Mr. Motter—a little fellow from near Boston, Mass, & myself. At the General Hospital there are about twenty and the remainder at the carious corps hospitals at the front.

I have plenty of opportunities for seeing and talking with the soldiers & think, as a general thing, they are a rough set & need watching to keep them from stealing & some officers are more troublesome than the men.

The fighting, I think, will commence here in a few weeks as there is every indication to that effect. The weather here is cold at night but quite warm in the middle of the day.

There is plenty of firing of heavy guns along the line every few days but it don’t amount to anything.

I am yours affectionately, — Hosea Paul, Jr.


City Point, Virginia
September 24, 1864

Dear Father,

I received two letters from home dated respectively 16 & 17 day before yesterday, and also some papers last night.

Last night, intelligence was received at headquarters of another victory over Early by Sheridan amounting to a complete rout. Accordingly, this morning immediately after breakfast, the 2nd, 5th, & 18th (Butler at Point of Rocks) opened their guns and for a time the roar was almost continuous, and the heaviest firing since the Battle of the Wilderness and many who who did not know what it was for thought that a general engagement had commenced. But it did not keep up longer than about half an hour.

Cadwallader is drafted. He received the intelligence several days ago and went North this morning. He tried considerably to obtain a substitute down here but these darkies have followed the army a good while and have had plenty of opportunities to enlist if they had so desired before this. Uncle Daniel [Paul] was here yesterday and is here today.

During Cadwallader’s absence or until further arrangements, Mr. [James C.] Fitzpatrick who was with the 9th Corps will take his place.

Things are becoming more pleasant here than they were. I wish very much that I had brought my gold pen with me. I do not think I will send home any more money as I may be able to make something changing state money for greenbacks if Uncle Daniel continues to make regular trips to Baltimore. State money is not taken here at all and for 5, 10, 15 or 25 dollars, they will very readily pay 5 or 10 percent discount.

But I will not do anything of the kind if I think it will not pay. I do not have but little to do here but am generally on hand. We send out fifteen 4-horse wagon loads of stuff every week. They consist mostly of canned fruits, extract of Jamaica Ginger, corn starch, Farina, condensed milk, comfort bags, shirts, drawers, socks, pickles, ink, paper, envelopes, soda crackers, cheese, butter, lard, onions, potatoes, beets, dried apples, blackberry root syrup, wines, liquors &c. to some extent. In the tent they have religious newspapers, tracts, bibles, testaments, &c. &c. ¹

[end of letter missing]

¹ The following is from a publication by the US Cristian Commission in 1864: “Here one may learn how great a value a little thing, just in time, may have. A bottle of ginger may save many lives; a jar of pickled onions or cabbage may keep in the ranks more men than one, to fill whose place would cost in bounty money one thousand dollars more or less, with a green man, worth not half as much as the veteran lost. A clean shirt, to one suffering for it, has in it a world of comfort, and not a little gospel if given by a disciple in the name of Jesus. A housewife—or comfort bag—with its buttons, needles, thread, scissors, letter &c., has more joy in it oftentimes to a soldier in the trenches than the most splendid mansion could have to a man rolling in wealth at home. So on of scores of things that might be named. And O, how welcome too are the visits of the delegates! How ready are the brave men, in the face of death, to hear the words of life!”

Record of stores distributed by the Christian Commission from their supply house in Philadelphia during the month of September 1864—some of which was shipped to City Point.


City Point, Virginia
September 26, 1864

Brother Nicholson,

Will you please make out and send to me a receipt or some kind of a memorandum that I lent through you to the Commission the sum of fifteen (15) dollars. Something of the kind is necessary in order to recover the money as Mr. Cole is very particular about these things.

We are getting along very well here and generally have plenty to do, We have been having some carpenter work done which puts things in better shape. Hoping to see you again or to hear of your complete recovery. I am &c. — H. Paul, Jr.



City Point, Virginia
September 29, 1864

Dear Father,

I am well and have been the busiest today since I came here. It appears that last night the whole army started in motion and as a consequence, it makes many alterations in our business. One of our largest stations—that at the Tenth Corps—sent in everything of consequence that they could not take away, amounting to four or five loads, and we have had to sort out the different articles as many of the boxes had many different articles in them which had to be put into their places, and kept three negroes busy from 11 a.m. till after six.

The 18th Corps team which came in tonight from Point of Rocks reported that they had considerable numbers of wounded &c. The Point has been full of rumors today. First, that the army was in motion, that a general engagement took place last night. In the afternoon the evacuation of Petersburg was reported. In the evening, that our forces would attack Richmond tonight and that Maj. Gen. Birney, Commanding 10th A. C. was killed this afternoon.

Yesterday fourteen new delegates arrived. Today ten more. And whenever news reaches the North of a general engagement, they will come down by the carload, I suppose. There does not appear to have been much fighting and we have heard no firing but is too far off to hear much or any musketry.

Gen. Grant was out to the front yesterday & went out this morning at 5 o’clock.

The Gen. Field Agent, John A. Cole, went out this morning at 3 a.m. and has not yet returned. I have now been in the storehouse a month today. I shall expect to get through with the Commission in about ten days or a week. I have received nothing from home this week.

Uncle Daniel [Paul] was here last night & I suppose returned this morning as he expected to & I have not seen him today. The mail boat leaves here for Baltimore & Washington at ten a.m. & arrives here about 5 p.m. daily.

Your son, — Hosea Paul, Jr.


City Point, Virginia
October 3, 1864

Dear Father,

Your letter of 29th was received tonight.

I do not know on what day my term of service will be, nor do I know the usual length—whether computed from the date of commission and time which the delegate started to the time of starting home, or whether six weeks from arrival. If I start from here say Monday morning at ten, I would arrive in Baltimore about seven the next morning and leave for Philadelphia about ten, arriving there at about two. Leaving for Pittsburgh at 10:30 p.m., arriving there about or before noon & leaving there about midnight, arriving at Cuyahoga Falls on 10:05 train Thursday.

You say you want a surveyor & draughtsman. Pay $120 a month and ask if I came home soon to do the surveying as it will be the best school I can go to. Now do you want me to go home and do surveying as I did last winter or go to Kentucky with you? I suppose from your letter you mean the latter but I cannot perfectly understand it. If you only want me, however, to go home and stay there, there is not so much need of hurrying as there would be to go to Kentucky.

I saw [James C.] Fitzpatrick tonight. Cadwallader only went to Washington & New York & is alright & Fitzhugh expected him to return yesterday or today. I will endeavor to spend a day with him out front of he returns in time to do so.

There has been nearly a thousand wounded brought in here from the left—5th & 9th Corps—and of course many are in the hospitals in the fields too badly wounded to be brought in. It rained hard all day Saturday & stopped military operations and they have not recommenced.

I do not think but I can get off Monday morning without any trouble as some thirty delegates came last week and they will come down here by the cars & boatload when they hear the news.

Your son, — Hosea

Four-horse supply wagons awaiting the unloading of stores at the wharf of City Point

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