My Darling Sister Elmira Jan. 14, 64
It is with great pleasure that I seat myself in my bunk to pen a few lines to you. I am as well as ever I was & hope this letter will find you all enjoying good health. I have been home on a furlough of seven days and are back again in camp. I did want to see you so bad but I did not have time to come down but if I stay here till Spring I shall try and get another furlough and then look out for me for I am coming to see you if I can get there. I did not get your letter till I came back to camp & then I had a good time reading for I had three letters to read. You must keep a stiff upper lip for a year or two and then I am coming home to stay with my dear relations for if we don’t have the rebs licked by that time we may as well give up the ghost. Dear Sister I will send you my picture but it is not a very good one but it is the best I could do here in camp. I could not get a photograph here in camp and I could not get a pass to go down town so you will have to put up with a plate. Keep it until I come back. I would like to have your Sweet picture to look at but it will not do to send it now for I don’t know how long I shall stay here but when I get where I am to stay a spell if you will please send it to me I shall be very grateful & I know you will oblige your Soldier brother. You will see by looking at my face that I am careless as ever.
Dear Brother Hod I don’t think you had better enlist because I think we won’t need many more men then we have got but you had better stay at home and take good care of my darling Sister and I know if you stay home you will take the best kind of care of her as you have ever done. I don’t think there will be any doubt about your getting into the Regt. with me as I do not think it is full but stay at home like a good boy & let me do the fighting. I want to see you all very much & if it is possible for me to get another furlough I shall come and see you. You must both write to me as often as you can & I will do so too. You must excuse me if I don’t fill up this sheet for there is so much confusion I can scarcely write at all. Give my love to all that inquire after me but save the larger share for yourselves. So Adieu for this time my Dear Brother & Sister. I remain your sincere Loving & Affectionate Brother.
Barracks No 3
Rufus Alonzo Cady Civil War Letter February 27.1864
My Darling and Only Sister
It was with conflicting emotions I perused your letter with joy to receive it
but O my Dear One I cannot bear to think that perhaps before I can get to see you , you
may be numbered among our darling ones that have gone to that happy world from whence no traveler ever returns. It cannot it must not be that I can never behold you again, never hear that winning voice, never feel the clasp of those loving arms around me, never press my lips to yours, never behold the love light beaming from those mild blue eyes. Oh no my sister
the good God above will spare us to meet once more on the shores of time & if not I pray we may meet where parting shall be no more but keep up good spirits my Sister this war will be over sometime and then what a happy meeting that will be all over the United States.
Feb. 29th Dear Sister I commenced this letter Saturday but I had to go on guard Sunday about a mile from the fort at what we call the naval Battery and today we have had a general inspection and mustered for pay so you see my time has been pretty well occupied till this evening and
now I will try and finish it. I am very well except most awful sleepy for I did not get much sleep last night. I am glad to hear that your town has filled up their quota so that Hod will be in no
fear of the draft.
You tell me not to feel bad, but can I help it. Dear Sister can I help feeling very bad to think that I was so far away from you and perhaps never see you No no Sister do not tell me to read & forget that I have one sister in the spirit land and another is slowly fading away perhaps with the same dire disease but I will not write any more of this. You want Molly and the children to come down and make you a visit in the spring and you know I am perfectly willing. Mary, I wish her to do so and I know she will be there thrice welcome.
We cannot tell where we shall go from here till we get our marching orders there is a report Circulating in camp that 3 company of our Battalion are going to Winchester in Va and the other is going to build a new fort about 3 miles from our own at Sullivans Gap, but it is only a report and we cannot tell anything about it till we get the orders for my part. I had rather stay here than go to Baltimore for it is healthier here and your guard duty will not be so had here. I have always supposed we were on the Blue Ridge but we are not we are on a short range of Mtns. between the Allegany Mtns. and the Blue Ridge and it is called the Elk Mtns.
I should be very glad to get your picture indeed but do not deprive yourself of anything to send it to me. I should be very well contented to be a soldier if I had no friends or family but when I think of you in your poor health and our dear Mother and my wife and children so far away I confess it makes me feel somewhat down but I must not do it for I have a great duty
to do and that is to lay down my life if need be for our beloved country.
Tell Hod not to get discouraged but keep a stiff upper lip and write to me sometime.
Give my best respects to Uncle H(?)’s folks when you see them and tell them I have not forgotten my old friends and so I will bid you good Bye & God bless my darling Sister write again soon. From your truly loving Brother
Kiss the Children for me
I thank you very much for those verses and I think they are very pretty.
Note: Molly is Mary, wife of Alonzo
R. Alonzo Cady Civil War Letter March 29, Spring 1864
Stone Fort Md March 29
My Darling Sister
I will try & write a few lines to you to inform you that I am still on top of the sod and enjoy in middling good health and tip top spirits. I received a letter from Ma Saturday eve but have not had time to get it off so I will pen a few words to my darling little Sis. I was on guard Monday and had plenty of business to do for we had some 15 or 20 men in the guard house & it took us all (the guards I mean) to keep them straight but they are all released except one and he will come out of it tomorrow. We are going to have plenty to do here this summer for we will have to go down the mountain for Battalion drill 3 times a week. It causes a good deal of grumbling among the boys and they say they had rather go into the field as Infantry any day than to climb up this mountain as much as we would fare better if we were in Shermans or Thomas army but I reckon I can stand it till next fall & then I think we will all come marching home.
We heard some artillery firing yesterday up the valley in the direction of (Winchester or Manchester) but have not heard what the matter was. It may have been some slight
skirmishing with guerillas or something of that kind.
You spoke of 2 letters you had written and received no answers. I received them both and answered both of them but I suppose the high water has delayed our letters. Well little one
It is now evening and I have received a letter from Mate & I must close this & write to her so excuse me this time if you please.
Good bye Sister & write soon from Loney
Md. Hts. April 8 /64
My Darling Sister
I received your kind and thrice welcome letter the first of this week & was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you were as well as you were and according to your wishes I deferred writing till I received the housewife which came to hands tonight. My Sweet Sister you have my heart felt gratitude for your kindness in sending me so valuable an article and it will someday be in my power to repay you for it. I had to show it to some of my companions and they pronounced it the most complete article they had ever seen and I fully agree with them there. It is so complete and everything is so nice I don't know how I ever can repay you but it shall be done if I live to come out of this with life & health.
Dear Juty I have no news to write for the very good reason that there is nothing going on except some changes in Commanders at this post and the talk is now that we are going to Baltimore but I cant tell you anything about it for there is so many rumors afloat about our leaving the heights. But there seems to be more truth in this rumor then in any others that have been afloat. I think by the writing of your letter that you are the most Patriotic of any of our family. But Bully for you for being down on the Copperheads they are worse than an open avowed traitor and would to God I had it in my power to deal with them according as I saw fit. I would hang them all by the heels until they were dead, dead, dead. But they will catch particular fits in old Scio when I get home again. I've had two letters from Molly this week she was well and so were the little ones. I got a letter from George and Mother this week they were all on gain but Mother has had a bad time with the rheumatism but is getting better.
You wanted to know about my food. Well the fact is we have so many different kinds of food that I can't begin to name them but it is principally bread meat & coffee. I can buy butter here for $.35 pr lb and eggs for $.30 per dozen and everything else accordingly so you see if we want anything extra that it costs us quite a pile to live. My bed is made of two of Uncle Sam’s blankets and my overcoat while my pillow is my clothes that I pull off that night. But it is a very good bed for a Soldier and I have no cause for complaining unless it is sometimes about my food which sometimes is not as good as it should be. You must not think because I write about Stone Fort that it is such a fort as they have around the cities for it is no fort at all only of breast work thrown up with breaches or portholes for the big guns to poke their noses through. But if you could see Fort Marshall you would see a nice place but our fort is not properly a fort.
Saturday morning .
Darling Juty I did not have time to finish this last night but will do so this morning it is blowing and raining like from this morning but that is nothing new to us that we have had a great deal of such weather this spring.
We all had quite a time yesterday for we have to commence practicing with the big guns. Every Co. is allowed to shoot 25 shots a month at a target and I saw some very good shots made by some of the other Cos. Our Co did not fire but two shots but we will have to go at it again Monday. They fired 6 times from the 100 pounder and I reckon it made the very earth shake.
I shall have to close by Saying Farewell and may God protect my beloved
Sister Juty Farewell
R. Alonzo Cady Letter April 14, 1864
Md. Heights April 14
My Darling Sister
I received your kind loving and thrice welcome letter of date Apr. 10 last night and you can form no idea of the good it done me to peruse it’s precious contents. I was glad to learn that the ring went through all safe for I know that you would highly prize it of on no other account than that it came from Maryland Heights. I was very very glad to learn that you are able to get around the house. I feared dear Sister that you would never be able to do your own work again but since you are improving in health I feel certain that we shall surely meet again sometime. Do not let my absence trouble you
for it may bring you down again. I should not have written you about our going to Idaho and I would not have done so if I had taken the second thought but do not let it worry you for it has all blown over I guess for I have not heard anything about it lately so you must not let that fret you. Do not believe what you hear about the H. Artillery going into Infantry for they have not done so. They are called to the front from the defenses of Washington in a Seige train but they can’t take us into Infantry for more than thirty days in a year and I believe they can do that but do not worry for I don't think we will have to go out of our calling for the present. We have had a good deal of snow here for Dixie but it is very pleasant now. Dear Sister I have some glorious news to write this time. The 5th Art. have all left Baltimore and come to Maryland Heights and Molly’s Brother is with them and I am going down where he is today to see if I can get him transferred into Co. I. They came here last Sunday and *Henry & I have been together
every day since. Oh Juty if you could have seen us when we met you would have seen
two happy boys for we had made up our minds that we would not meet until the close
of the war but if I can get him transferred into this Co. I’ll bet we will have some glorious old times together and I shall be perfectly contented with my present situation.
He is a fifer in Co. H. of the 2nd Battalion. But he says if he can get in the Co. with me he will be willing to lay aside the fife and take the musket.
I received three letters from Scio last night together with yours and one from Washington. Molly was about crazy when I wrote her about our going to Idaho. Dear Sister when she comes down to see you try and instill a portion of your brave spirit into her for she is not brave to bear up under trouble and grief. Try and cheer her up so that she may be able to bear my absence. She is not half brave as our Mother even. She writes that she has the blues all the time. She is getting to be as bad as Hod I reckon. Now Juty do not worry yourself down sick on my account but keep up good courage like a brave girl that you and all will yet be well for I do not think we will have to go to Idaho yet awhile but perhaps we shall be ordered to the front in a Seige train. But never mind I have made up my mind to come home again and I shall stick to it till I get something to tell me different. But I would not like to be taken prisoner by the Johnny’s and I don’t think I shall for old Gen. Grant has got hold of the lines and he is going to put things right through.
I got a letter from one of the **Jacob Johnson boys last night. He writes That Grant says the Army of the Potomac has got to take Richmond but I am afraid many a brave boy will bite the dust before that is done for it is strongly fortified and the Rebs will fight to the last man. It has got to be a war of extermination for they are a gritty lot of men.
Darling Sister I will have to close so Farewell for this time. Kiss the children for Uncle Lon and except a thousand more for yourself from your still loving and Affectionate Brother.
Write again soon. Alonzo Cady
Written upside down and on side of letter .
I thank you kindly for the pepper although I can get all I want at the cook house but still I thank you for your thoughtfulness in sending it and I think it will taste sweeter
coming from so dear a Sister. Good by and God bless you. Lon
Bully for the Bone Set Tea. Give my love to all that inquire after me but keep a share for yourself.
*Henry is son of John and Charlotte Burrall Peterson. 1850 census records Charlotte as white. John and all of the children are recorded as Mulatto. Information in this letter is further proof that many mulatto’s/blacks served with white units and were serving before the formation of the U.S. Colored Troops. Henry played the fife in the Wellsville 4th of July parades for many years. The fife is in the hands of Darwin Cady’s granddaughter or her children
** Jacob Johnson family is also recorded as mulatto. Sons names were
Benjamin, George W., William L., & Sylvester.
Letter, May 22, 1864
How do you like this heading [Transcriber's note: he is referring to stationary which is printed “5th New York Heavy Artillery”with soldiers on horses and horses pulling Artillery cannons.]
May 22, 1864
My Darling Little Sister Juty,
It is with the greatest pleasure that I now undertake to write a little to you in answer to the half sheet I received from you in Molly’s letter. I was awful tickled to hear from you and to learn that you and Mary were having such good times together and O juty how happy I would have been to enjoyed the pleasure of your visit and to have been with you but cruel fate keeps me in Maryland and will for some time yet. But I hope not longer than till next spring and if Gen. Grant keeps on as he has begun, Blessed peace will again reign over our beloved country, and that right speedily but many, O how many wives and Mothers, Sisters and Brothers will be called to mourn the loss of friends “killed in Battle or” died in the Hospital”, but I pray to the giver of all good that I may return in safety to my friend to enjoy their society and to enjoy the blessings of Peace once more.
You said Dear Sister that if you lived in these parts you would climb up these rocks often if the Soldiers did not object Well there is no fear of that for they like the society of women as well as if they were at home and perhaps a little better for if a strange lady comes into camp to see the sights to be seen she is the center of all eyes. especially of the privates who do not go out of camp often. We were favored with a visit the other day of the little school marm that resembles you so closely, and it made me feel rather watery to look at her for she looks so much like my darling Sister that it seemed to me as if I had ought to fold her in my arms and press my lips to hers in one long fervent kiss, but I am sure if had done it I certainly should have got in a mess with her gallant so I stood back and looked on. I have just come back from a walk out to Solomons Gap which is about 4 miles north of our camp and it is like “the rocky road to Dublin.” I reckon there are some snakes among these rocks though I have not seen any as yet. To let you know how well the soldiers like the Shemales there is 9 men belonging to Co. I that have their
with them there is 3 of them stays in camp and the rest are in different houses at the foot of the mountain. One of the Ladies here in camp is a Corporals wife and she cooks for the officers and the other two are privates wives. One of them does washing for the soldiers and the other cooks for the Sergeants. But I wouldn’t have a wife of mine in camp among so many rough soldiers for the whole of my bounty for it is no place for women. It is getting to be very hot weather and I am afraid I shall lose my fat this summer but if we stay here we won’t have any fighting to do I may still get fatter. I sent you a paper a few days ago and I hope you will get it for it is a very nice one and there are some very pretty pictures in it. Well Juty I don’t know whether to say anything to Hod or not for I have never seen any of his writing since I have been a Soger. Tell him if he thinks enough of me to scratch a few words to me I should be very thankful and if he don’t it is all the same to me. Tell the children that Uncle Loney thinks of them very often and when he comes home he will bring them all some kind of a present if they are good children to their Ma. Kiss them all for me and accept a thousand more for yourself. I can’t think of any more nonsense so I will write no more.
Good Bye I write soon from your own true & loving Brother Alonzo Esq
Letter, June 9, 1864
Letter, June 17, 1864
Friday, June 17, 1864
My Sweet Sister Juty
__________(missing) With Joy I hailed your thrice welcome letter last evening but again I had to place my darling wife ahead of your sweet self. I know you will not blame me for it as it will only make one days difference with your recipt of this. I am still able to eat anything______________(missing)
Rat tail soup ___to eat____________(missing)
and am as tough as a _________( missing) as an Elephant.
I wish I could see you my darling sister for it seems a long time since I have seen your sweet countenance in reality though I look at your precious likeness every day and dream of you every night almost. But wait and have patience is the order of the day and I reckon I can do that right smart (as the Southerners say) O Jute it would make you laugh could you hear the funny talk in a conversation carried on between two or more of the natives such as expressions as “right smart”. “I reckon” “round about yer” (round about here) they call a shilling “a levy a five cent piece a fife and a great many other addities that is enough to kill skunks. One picket duty throws us against the natives a good deal and I am fast learning this slang and I cant help it. The Citizens across the Shenandoah river are not allowed to come over in to the ferry to trade nor to cross the ________________________(missing) they have to come to the bridge ___________(missing __________ (missing) their Loyality with the names of two vouchers attached and then send in their bill to some of the merchants (not over ten dollars a week) who bring their goods to the blockade when an officer in the employ of the provost marshall signs his name to the bill of sale and over it goes through a Lieutenants hands to the native and in that way they are prevented from helping the Rebs to any provision. If a man wants to buy a coat he cant do it for not over ten dollars is allowed to one family every week. How would you like such a mode of trading not very well I fancy Now then to answer some of your questions The rose I sent did not grow wild but in a farmers yard and I do not know whether any of that sort grow wild here or not, but there are thousands of wild roses in this part of the country like the wild ones I have seen in old Allegany. As to the woods there are plenty of them except within a mile or so of the defenses of Harpers Ferry and they have been cut away since the war broke out for the purpose of discovering an enemy before he should get too close. The timber is mostly second growth for it has once or twice been cut down and manufactured into coal. The timber is mostly chestnut with a sprinkling of hickory Black oak pine & spruce I have not seen a hemlock tree in Maryland but over in Va. they have a log hut for the guards built of hemlock logs. There are plenty of Laurel bushes here the first I ever saw. And the pine here is not such magnificent trees which grow in old York State but small dwarf trees with limbs clear down to the ground. Our quarters are built of chestnut logs roofed with pine boards and the hut which I call home contains 16 souls 5 yankees, 5 dutchman and 6 Irishman so you see we have all sorts of men in our Co. Well Juty you will think your brother is getting simple for writing such stuff with nothing in it interesting but it is the best I can do this time. You sent me a bunch of thread and I thank you for it but I have not used up one half which came in the house – wife. I do not know of anything you can do for me more than to write as often as you can and tell me all that happens in all your neighborhood that you think would interest me (you understand ) Give my best wishes to all my love & kisses as many as you please to yourself and children and now good bye for a short time. Hoping to hear from you soon I remain your loving Brother
Summer 1864 #3 ?
Darling Juty One sheet will not hold all I want to write for I can’t begin to tell you half that has transpired since I wrote to you last. I think our marching orders have played out in full for the Major Commanding has unpacked all his goods and gone to keeping house again. We thought we would go to Washington for the War department sent
for the best Battalion of Artilery to come and garrison one of the many forts in defenses of the Capitol and Gen. Max Webber picked out the old 3rd Battalion as the most skilled in the practice of Heavy Arty but the Rebs were too thick between us and Washington for us to go with safety and here we are yet and I hope we will stay here this summer
for it is more healthy here than there .
The weather is exceeding hot in the daytime but cool nights and we had had no rain of any amount since the first of June and our springs are about dried up. I hope we shall get rain soon but it does not look like it now.
If your Cabbage does well you must make some Sour-Krout so that I can have a good feast next fall or winter when I come home of Furlough. Dear Juty you wanted to know what you could do for me but I do not know of anything except to pray for me and to write as often as possible & tell me all the news you can. How I should like to have been in your Company at that festival near Hunts Mill. I think I could have enjoyed myself first rate.
Perhaps I will try some day to give you an outline sketch of our Barrack as it is but 3 of the men are gone from it. Two of them were discharged as unfit for the service and the third was killed by the Provost guard at Sandy Hook. He was down at the Hook and got to drinking too freely and the Provost tried to take him to the guard- house but he resisted and they stabbed him with their bayonets in 3 places. He died from the effects of his wounds a day or two after. Well Juty I have filled this half sheet and I can write no more. God Bye
Write soon Lon to Juty
R. Alonzo Cady Summer 1864 # 3
Well Little Sis. I can’t write enough on one sheet so here goes on another. There is no use saying a word about my health for there is not a tougher Soldier in the Third Battalion than that same Leon Cady.
You may think that is pretty strong talk but it is just as true as Preaching.
We have just got the news that our 2nd Battalion were engaged in Friday night and that they lost 40 or 50 killed & wounded. O how a tremble when I write for I know not but Henry is among the number but I will hope not till I learn differently. The rebs brought a battery of 6 guns to bear on our boys when they thought to take the Battery and accordingly charged on it but the rebs fire was too hot for them and they had to fall back. but they got reinforcements and the rebs had to withdraw their battery. we saw the fight and the charge from the Heights but we could not tell how the tide turned nor who were engaged until today. I am sorry to hear of Uncle Hi’s loss. it seems that the creek owes him a grudge for something he has been very unfortunate on the account of heavy rains. I am sorry, very sorry, for the Home guards that they prove to be so cowardly that they can’t guard a few rebs a little while without running away to Canada. poor little fellows it is too bad that they have to go so far away from their Mammy’s and endure such hardships. I pity them from the bottom of my soul (of my shoe).
I wish they would send the 3rd Battalion to Elmira to guard the graybacks we would show them how it is done and I bet my old boots that they would not get away from us, Nary time: I wish it was so that I could have saved all my letters for they contained so much love that it seemed hard to burn them but it could not be helpful for I had too big a load of them. I’ll bet I had 450 letters since I enlisted and I don’t know but more. Most of them from Molly (of course) and the next best was my Darling little Sister. It would be a good revenge on George to send your likeness to him without writing if you do so please let me know how he takes it for I reckon it will cut him to the quick. I would like your photograph if it will not discommode you Sweet Sister for the likeness I have don’t look hardly natural but still I can see some of your looks in it. Do not worry yourself about the condensed milk for I do not use much milk lately nor do I care but little about it. Tell Linny that Uncle Loney thinks she is a smart little girl and I always did for that matter and when this war is over and I come home I will give her her name present. Kiss both the little girls for their uncle and tell them that he thinks of them often. I would really like to hear from Cousin Emily although I have never seen her and if she writes to me I will ask her to change pictures with me so I can see how she looks and then I can tell how I shall like her. Dear Sister I thank you for the prose & poetry and shall keep the verses but they are hardly true for my coat has never been cut with balls they are very pretty.
You must be very careful of your health dear one and do not get down to the bed if you can help it for my Sister I want to see you smart and have a good visit with you when I come home on furlough.
Precious One how I long to clasp thee in my arms and print a brothers loving kiss on thy ruby lips, yes not only one kiss but as many as you can count in one half hour. I will send you a little account of how the guerrillas use our men, the hounds they are citizens by day and bush whackers by night that is the most of them but our folks hardly ever retaliate till now and the boys don’t take any guerrillas prisioners bully for them and they are burning the citizens buildings we saw some burning last night I would like to see every building in the Shenandoah valley burnt to the ground I’ll bet the citizens would not harbor any guerrillas then well Sis good bye & god bless you and protect you till I come back from the war good bye again accept 1000 kisses & write soon from you loving soldier Brother