This letter was written by Joseph Freeland Bartlett of Ware (1843-1917), the son of Marshall J. Bartlett 91809-1876) and Abigail Warren (1813-1876) of Hampshire county, Massachusetts.
Joseph enlisted as a corporal in Co. H, 10th Massachusetts Infantry in November 1862. He was promoted to Sergeant in May 1863 and held that rank at the time this letter was written at the conclusion of the Mine Run Campaign. He re-enlisted shortly afterward and was wounded on 5 May 1864 in the Battle of the Wilderness. In June 1864 he was transferred to the 37th Massachusetts as a First Sergeant in Co. I. In May 1865 he accepted a commission as a 2d Lieutenant and then transferred into the 20th Massachusetts Infantry, Co. K, as a 1st Lieutenant.
According to the History of Pelham, Mass: From 1738 to 1898 by Charles Oscar Parmenter (p. 358), Joseph F. Bartlett “served continuously at the front during the entire war with the exception of three months when he was in the hospital with wounds.” It was also stated that “he participated in 33 of the great battles of the war, including all the battles around Richmond in 1862, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Sheridan’s battles in the Shenandoah valley, Petersburg, Sailor Creek, and Appomattox…..He was slightly wounded at the battle of Fair Oaks and severely at the battle of the Wilderness.”
Camp near Brandy Station, Va.
December 4th 1863
I received your kind letter of the 22nd today and was very glad to hear that you was well & all the rest of the family. I am well as usual and hope this letter will find you the same.
We have had some hard marching since I wrote you last. We left our camp at this place last week on Thursday and marched to the Rapidan River at Jacob Mills where we crossed without much opposition and camped on the south bank. We were under orders to move early on Friday morning but did not move but a short distance. During the day the 3rd Army Corps engaged the enemy about two miles in our front. The fight lasted from 4 o’clock P. M. till dark when the enemy were repulsed with some loss. Our loss was not far from 300 killed and wounded.
At one o’clock on Saturday morning we moved south again and arrived in the vicinity of Robinson’s Tavern soon after daylight where we remained till Sunday morning until daylight when we moved to the left and took position near Whitehall Church where we remained till we fell back across the Rapidan and came to our camp at this place again.
I have no more time to write now so I will close.
From your brother in haste. — Joseph F. Bartlett