1861: Henry (“Harvey”) Kauffman, Jr. to Ned

This letter was written by Harvey Kauffman, Jr., (1837-1907), the son of Henry Kauffman (1805-1861) and Sarah Campbell (1801-1887) of Easttown, Chester county, Pennsylvania. Harvey who enlisted on 11 September 1861 to serve three years in Co. C, 97th Pennsylvania. He began his service as a corporal and mustered out as 2d Lieutenant.

“On the 12th of November the command broke camp and proceeded toWashington, and upon its arrival went into camp a half mile north of the Capitol. After remaining here a week, in the meantime receiving new Spring-field rifled muskets in exchange for the smooth-bore which had originally been given, it proceeded via Baltimore to Fortress Monroe, and went into camp near the ruins of the village of Hampton. It was soon after ordered to Port Royal, South Carolina, and embarking upon the steamer Errickson on the 8th of December, arrived at the entrance of the harbor on the 11th but a storm arising, it was obliged again to put to sea, and for three days, was buffeted by winds and waves, the men suffering from sea-sickness, and from the crowded condition of the steamer. Upon landing it was hospitably received by the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, which had preceded it, and marked the beginning of that close intimacy between the two regiments, which continued to the end of their terms of service.”

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Harvey Kauffman and his wife, Hannah Elizabeth Lewis, in later years. They were married in December 1864.

TRANSCRIPTION

Fortress Monroe
November 23 [1861]

My dear Ned,

No doubt you would like to know were we are and what we are doing and I intend to keep you informed so far as is in my power. I would have written soon, but we have been flying from one place to another and so busy since last I saw you that I have barely had time to send a letter home. When we left Philadelphia one week ago this evening, we made for Washington where we arrived the next day—Sunday—about 3 o’clock P. M. Got our supper and started for our camp ground which was only about half a mile from the Capitol.

Our canvass did not arrive until after dark and we had a cold time waiting for them but after all we had quite a good night’s rest. The next day four of our company took a stroll through the City and I can tell you we had a high old time of it. We saw all the sights in a mighty short time. On Tuesday, we again received orders to march so on Wednesday we were marched to the armory and received our arms which are the rifled or Minié musket and a most splendid weapon they are. The boys are all highly pleased with them and they have good reason to be.

When we came back we at once struck our tents and bot aboard the cars for Baltimore at which place we arrived about 11 o’clock P. M. expecting to get aboard the boat at once for this place, but we were doomed to a sad disappointment for there was no boat sailed until 5 o’clock P. M. next day so we had nothing to do but spend the night in the depot and a pretty tall time it was. Some of the boys, by way of putting in the time, got gloriously drunk and have not yet been heard from. Thursday I think was one of the hardest days work I ever did. In the morning early we marched to the point down opposite Ft. McHenry and stood around there all day helping load the boats by way of resting ourselves until about five o’clock when it was discovered that the boat would hold but seven companies and so the rest of us had to shoulder our knapsacks once more and march clear back through the town about three miles to another place where there was a boat waiting for us and we pushed off from the wharf about 6 o’clock and arrived at the Great Fort at about 7 o’clock A.M. November 22nd.

I was very sorry that we had to make the journey down the bay in the night as I had a great desire to see the country, but as I could not do that, I did the next best thing which was to get a good bunk and slept it out—a thing which I was about tired enough to do. We did not get to see much of the Fort—only on the outside as we started right off for the camp ground which we found about two miles off close by the Village of Hampton which was burned by the Rebels some time since. We are now the advance regiment—the pickets extending some two miles beyond us. I believe the enemy is not in force within ten miles of us. Troops are coming in very fast now, getting ready to go on the next Naval expedition which will start from here soon so that we are very likely to have our wish.

Yesterday a party of us started out with the pretext of hunting water but in reality to take a look at the country but not a white man or woman could we see and we went as far as the pickets would allow us. I was very forcibly struck with the look of former wealth which the country presented but now all is desolation and ruin. What few houses are left standing are deserted by all but the blacks who appear to be in full possession.

Our pickets were driven in day before yesterday by the rebel cavalry. A large force was sent out after them but they had made good their escape. Last night we heard heavy firing and today we learn that some gunboats sailed up James river and shelled out a Rebel camp. This afternoon we heard much firing in the same direction. I hear some talk this evening that we are to leave here on Monday again but I do not know how true it is. I do not think, however, that we will be here long.

I do not know about those leggings. It is very doubtful about my ever receiving them should they be sent while we are moving about so much. I may have a chance to send for them by someone who is going home. Write soon and let me know how things are getting along. Direct care of Capt. [Isaiah] Price, Co. C, Col. [Henry R.] Guss, 97th Reg. P. V. Fortress Monroe. Va.

Hoping soon to hear from you, I am as ever yours &c., — Harvy Kauffman

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2 thoughts on “1861: Henry (“Harvey”) Kauffman, Jr. to Ned

  1. Received the following comment on this letter:

    Thank you for reproducing the letter from Henry Kauffman of the 79th Pa. I am Henry’s great-great-grandson (my mother’s father was named Charles Henry Kauffman). My wife and I have done some genealogy research on Henry and his family—we know, for example, that they owned a farm called Sunnyside near Berwyn, Pa., and we believe he was called “Harry” rather then “Harvey.” But we have never seen any of his letters, so this one was a wonderful treat. May I ask where this letter was found and where it now resides. Best regards, Ralph Braibanti

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  2. Received the following additional comment by Ralph Braibanti:

    Mr. Griffing,
    Thanks so much for your response. I will follow your instructions to print out copies of the original for myself and members of my family. I would be interested in purchasing the original letter if the price is reasonable. Perhaps you could pass this on to your friend. [Letter has already been sold]. You are performing a great service by making these letters more widely available through your site. I have a history of the 97th Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Civil War (by Isaiah Price), and it will be fascinating to compare Kauffman’s observations with the book’s account of the same timeframe. All the best for your noble project, Ralph Braibanti

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