This letter was written by Henry Chapin (1843-1898), the son of Merrick Warren Chapin (1796-1867) and Rebecca Ann Green (1816-1903) of Hartford, Connecticut.
Henry served in Co. A, 4th Connecticut Infantry, which was organized at Hartford and mustered into service on the 21st of May 1861. It served as an infantry unit until January 2, 1862, when the regiment was changed to the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery).
July 26th 1861
I received your letter and also one from Anna the first of the week but have not had no time till now to answer. You say that you have written me every week since I left home now. I have only received 5 letters of any kind from Hartford since I left. I think the next time that you write you had better direct them to me at Washington and see whether that will make any difference in my getting them. Just merely direct Washington D. C. instead of Hagerstown, MD. I think they will come a great deal sooner that way.
General Patterson passed through here this morning. The boys all say that hanging is too good for him for he would not let the troops in his division march on to Winchester and intercept General Johnson’s forces from reinforcing Beauregard at Manassas. We have as yet received no correct account of the battle but there is one sure thing and that is Johnson was shot dead.
Our company is all broken up. Lieut. Fitch has an appointment in the Regular Army and Lieut. Robbins has already left us as a Quartermaster of a Brigade, Some of the privates are appointed to offices outside of the company and the whole thing has run through. Col. [Levi] Woodhouse sent on 20 of us boys of Co. A to Martinsburgh, about 21 miles from here, to guard a provision team for which he was censured by General Patterson, whereat he is very mad and says that if the Government do not give his regiment rifles and pay in 20 days, he will march them home. He says that he has been fooled long enough.
We had a splendid time in Martinsburgh. There was not a single soldier there when we got there and you ought to have seen the cars and locomotives that the Rebels burned. There are 400 passenger cars and 65 Engines all a total loss. I have also been to Harper’s Ferry which is 26 miles from here (also the same distance to Frederick). I then got a piece of the platform John Brown was hung on. I will enclose a small piece. Also a piece of the stairs on which “Ellsworth” was shot. The large piece is the piece of the former and the small piece of the latter. I also got a rifle that was partially burned when our troops burned the arsenal there. It is a very strong place.
Give my love to Grandmother and all the folks. You need not feel worried about me for I shall either write or else get someone else to write for me. I am still at the hospital as Corporal of the Guard and can be promoted if I wish. With love to all, I remain affectionately your son, — H. Chapin
P. S. I have received no papers but twice. Write oftener &c.