1862: Joseph H. Barger to David P. Smeal

This letter was written by 18 year-old Corp. Joseph H. Barger (1844-1906) who enlisted on 5 December 1861 to serve three years in Co. K, 84th Pennsylvania Infantry. Joseph was captured at Chancellorsville on 3 May 1863 and subsequently exchanged. He was wounded at Pleasant Hill on 1 June 1864 and transferred to Co. I, 57th Pennsylvania Regiment. He mustered out of the service on 13 January 1865 as a veteran.

Joseph was the son of Isaac Barger (1801-1849) and Margaret Herman (1799-1882) of Bradford, Clearfield county, Pennsylvania. After the Civil War, Joseph married Hannah E. Taylor and continued to farm in Clearfield county.

This letter was written just days before the Battle of Cedar Mountain (9 August 1862) in which the 84th Pennsylvania participated as a reserve force.

Joseph wrote the letter to David P. Smeal (1844-1921), the son of Benjamin Smeal (1824-1887) and Elizabeth Barger (1823-1879).

The colorful letterhead of Cpl. Joseph Barger’s Letter with Image of Nathaniel Shoup of Co. C. wearing the uniform of the 84th Pennsylvania Infantry (LOC)


Sulphur Springs, Virginia
Headquarters 84th Regiment P. V., Co. K
August 3d 1862

Dear friend David,

I seat myself this pleasant afternoon to write you a few lines to let you know that I received your kind and welcome letter on the 30th of July which was carefully read and respected and glad to hear that you are all well. Your letter found me well and in good spirits.

Well David, I did not think that likeness would reach you as it was so heavy in a letter and I was almost ashamed to send it to you. But it was such a poor one I did not think of sending it to you when I got it taken.

Well David, there was an accident happened with one of our brave boys this morning while in a bathing in the river. He was drowned. He went to dive and struck the bottom of the river which injured him severely but we will take warning after this Sunday morning, I am sure.

Well David, we are only 70 miles from Richmond where we expect to go shortly. You wanted me to tell you how bad our army got whipped at Richmond. I am sure he [McClellan] did not get whipped at all. He only fell back about nine miles and then took a position and whipped the rebels [at Malvern Hill] like everything. But there will be some hard times yet, I think. The boys in Pennsylvania will have to turn out before long—them that can be spared. They talk of drafting soldiers now because they need a great many or they will be defeated at last. They will quit giving bounties the 15th of this month.

Well David, you wanted to know how George Kyler is. He is at the hospital at Alexandria where we was about a week ago. It is about one hundred and sixty miles from here. He is sick but not wounded as you heard. He is going to get discharged out of service I suppose. He will be home in a short time. The last time I seen him he looked quite bad.

Well David, I suppose the camp meeting will soon commence in Clearfield [county] and I hope you may enjoy yourself at the meeting and don’t let the girls starve till Old Josy comes back again. There is a few women in the 84th Regiment but they hain’t the right kind.

Well David, I will soon have to quit writing for my candle is almost all burnt up and I must have light to see to shut my eyes. This is all at present and hope to hear from you soon.

Your affectionate friend, Joseph H. Barger

To David Smeal

Address. Co. K, 84th PVI. Sulphur Springs, Va., via Washington


One thought on “1862: Joseph H. Barger to David P. Smeal”

  1. Thank you for this! You have helped me proved that Joseph H Barger was not my great grandfather. I’ve been working on this for over 20 years.


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