This letter was written by John M. Lovejoy (1843-Aft1880), the son of Andrew Lovejoy (1790-1850) and Sally (1805-Aft1880) of Roseboom, Otsego county, New York—some 50 miles west of Albany, not far from Cooperstown.
John enlisted as a private on 7 August 1862 to serve three years in Co. G, 121st New York Volunteers. He was mustered in on 23 August. Two years later he was wounded in a skirmish on 21 August 1864 and was promoted to corporal on 1 January 1865. He mustered out with his company on 25 June 1865 at Hall’s Hill in Virginia. According to enlistment records, John stood 5 feet 7½ tall, had red hair and blue eyes. He was a farmer by occupation.
John’s older brother Allen Lovejoy (1839-Aft1905) is also mentioned in this letter. Allen mustered into Co. G, 121st New York Volunteers at the same time as his brother. He was transferred to Co. C, 22nd Regiment VRC in January 1865.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Camp of the 121st Regt. N. Y. S. Vols.
Near Danville, Virginia
Sunday, April 30th 1865
My Dear Mother,
Again your son “J. M. Lovejoy” takes a passing chance to let you know he is yet numbered with the living. I am well and am now improving the first opportunity in one week of writing to you. No one can imagine how I would like to hear from home and dear friends. I have received answers to all my letters from Camp near Petersburg but hereto none I have wrote since that time. I wrote the 10th from Clover Hill and am anxiously waiting for a reply.
I will now tell a little about our march of last week from Burkesville Station to Danville—a distance of about 125 miles [that] was made in 5 days. When we left Burkesville Station, it was reported that the Rebel Gen. Jos. Johnston was 160 miles from Danville and was marching towards that place. When we reached here, his command was only 40 miles away at Greensboro, N. C. Next day we received official reports of his surrender on the same terms as General Lee. It is said the march of the Sixth Corps to Danville was the cause. If so, I am satisfied.
Today we was mustered for 2 months more pay. I have now due me 4 months pay ($72.00) which I hope to get before another muster. I would have liked it well if I had applied for a furlough and come home. Then I might have escaped this trip. But since I am here, I am pretty well contented and will willingly stay my time out if I have to for I now feel more confident than ever that our fighting is done in this Rebellion and hope soon to visit our homes and greet our friends with Peace and a Whole Union restored. I hope if Allen came home on furlough you had a good visit with him. I have not heard from him in over 3 weeks.
Four weeks ago today I was in the Battle before Petersburg. Three weeks ago Gen. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant. Two weeks ago we was greatly grieved to learn of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. One week ago we left Burkesville Station to defeat Johnston. We have done it and now we are here in comparative quiet. It is not at all probable we will remain here long for it is a long way to bring supplies and they have to come from City Point by rail and the railroad needs much repairing. It is greatly out of order.
Yesterday, last night, and until 10 A.M. today I was busy helping Sergt[-Maj. Norman W.] Herdman make out the company muster rolls and I am quite tired. But I thought I would write to you and let you know your absent son had not forgotten home & friends. Mother, the prospect looks brighter than when I left home December 1st, ’64 and I do hope and pray God will spare me to again return to you, never again to take up arms to defend our “Starry Banner.” Pray for me as of old, dear Mother, and let us trust God always for He will do by us as He seemeth just & good. I have many temptations here that at home I would be free Fromm but I will try by the assistance of Divine Grace to keep my eye on the road leading to Eternal life. Hoping to hear from you soon and learn you are well, I close.
Give my love to all enquiring friends and believe me, I am as ever your affectionate, dutiful soldier boy, — John M. Lovejoy.
Corporal, Co. G, 121st Regt. N. Y. S. Vols.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp of the 121st Regt. N. Y. S. Vols.
Hall’s Hill, Va., near Washington D. C.
Saturday evening, June 24th 1865
My dear Cousin C[ynthia],
Still in the State of Old Virginia. I shall try and pen you a few lines by way of my appreciation of you as a true and constant friend of J. M. L. We the 121st are not yet mustered out but the mustering officer is not at Regimental Headquarters and Capt. Van Scoy has the rolls of Co. G at headquarters now having them overlooked. I shall know before I sleep whether they are right and acceptable or not. If all is right, we will be mustered out tomorrow at 9 o’clock A. M. and Monday—if transportation can be furnished—we will leave Washington for New York.
I have just had a chat with Capt. Shelden J. Redway of Co. A and he says that we will leave Washington Monday but may expect to be in the City of Albany on the 4th of July. Then we will be paid off and leave for our homes.
Later. The Captain returned with the rolls about two hours ago and since them, him and I have been at work correcting and filling up in place deficient. The Colonel came into the tent a few moments ago and said that he had promised to have the rolls ready tomorrow at 9 o’clock. I will close for tonight and will finish my letter tomorrow for it is now about the hour of midnight. God bless you my dear girl is my earnest prayer. Ever yours, — John M. Lovejoy
Sunday A. M. 10 o’clock, June 25, 1865
Again free for a few moments I will attempt to write a few more lines. Ever since the break of day I have been writing for the company except long enough to eat a small breakfast and wash myself. I expect to have to go on Sunday Inspection yet today. Our muster out is to come off at 4 o’clock today if nothing happens and tomorrow we take the cars at 9 a.m. for the “Empire State.”
I think I will try a new pen for the one I have just been using is now worn out and truly I am ashamed of the penmanship and also the composition. But I know to who I am writing and I know you will excuse all my negligence and errors, will you not?
Five of our new recruits left us last night on french leave. They did not like the idea of being transferred to another regiment after we went home and so they deserted in the night. I think no more of them for that.
The day is very warm and I expect it will be still more sultry at noon. But I hope and do firmly believe this is the last Sunday we will have to spend in Old Dominion. An order was received yesterday to begin mustering out the Veteran troops. I think that will include the Veteran Reserve Corps. If so, Allen will be home before his time is out.
I don’t suppose you have heard from Mr. S. S. Burroughs, have you? I fear he has fell a victim to the terrible death of starvation in the prison pens of the arch traitors of the Rebellion. But if he was a true Christian as I trust he was, he is now better off than those who are called to mourn his untimely loss. But all must at some uncertain time pass the trying ordeal of death and how very essential that we should be prepared to meet the most high judge. Let us put our whole trust in Him alone andhoping the day is not far away when we may meet, I will close, remembering that I have a true friend away in the village of M. You know my heart and my inmost thoughts and remember I am unchangeable, but am ever truly yours, — John M. Lovejoy
Address: Co. G, 121st N. Y. Vols., Albany, New York
June 25th, 5 o’clock. The 121st has been mustered out. We leave for Albany tomorrow morning. I will write again when I arrive there. Ever yours, — John to Cynthia