R. Alonzo Cady Civil War Letter
Stone Fort Md. Hts. Md Sunday, July 17, 1864
My Precious Little Sister
I received two letters from you last Friday and I was very glad to hear from you again for it had been a long time since I had got a letter from home for the Johnny Rebs have been raising perfect cain round about here lately but the mail came through Friday and brought me four letters. Well I am still tough and
hearty as usual and hope I shall be for many a day. Two weeks ago today the fighting commenced near Martinsburgh and it has kept up till now and still they keep fighting off South of us but in sight of us for we can see a long way from the top of this hill. I tell you what Juty we have been in a pretty tight place here part of the time for the Johnnys are 30,000 strong while we did not have 1/3 of that number and we were surrounded on all sides at one time but they did not venture to take the Heights. The Rebel Gen. Breckenridge was with them and he wanted to try the heights but Early said it was of no use for it would be a great slaughter and nothing gained. And so it would have been for there is but one place that an army can get up and then they are in front of Stone fort and nine guns to bear on them. I will tell you what Co. I can do the 6th day of July the Rebs came in range of our guns and we were all called out to man them. The Rebs were in a skirmish line for they did not dare to come in bodies into the range of our Batteries but if we could see two or three of them together we would let fly a 30 lb. shell at them and it generally scattered them right & left. The Johnnys planted a battery and fired into our skirmish line but they did not fire a half a dozen shots before our big guns knocked it in to a cocked hat, and they drew it off the field. We saw an officer of the rebs riding along his line on a white horse and he was 2 ½ miles from Stone Fort and our Capt. said “boys lets try him” so we loaded up one of our long 30 pounders and drew a bead on him & his horse for they were seen to fall.
And a day or two after Gen Sigel came up to see us and looking away to the north west with his glass he spied the Johnnys wagon train drawn up into a
Square. Says he “Capt. Clark can we reach them?” Cap says “we can try” and we did try for we put 3, 30 lb shells right into the middle of the train and they were nearly if not quite five miles away. So you see my little Sis that your bub has had a hand in shelling the Johnnys but I wish they had come up on the heights in front of the guns of Stone Fort so that we could have used grape & canister instead of shell we would have annihilated the whole rebel force. But they are gone now and I don’t think there is a reb in Maryland except some few guerrillas
and Rebel sympathizers and they must keep still for stone fort makes a very good prison and we have got some of the skunks here now and one of them wears a pair of bracelets to boot.
Well Juty we cant get any papers here now for the railroad is partly destroyed between us and Baltimore but I hope it will repaired before long so that we can get letters back & forth without delay and also buy a paper once in a while to see how the battle goes on. We have been under marching orders for a week with our knapsacks packed but I reckon it is played out for we don’t hear anything about it lately. Well good bye for the present. Kiss the little ones for me and
accept a few for yourself. I remain as ever yours Lon
Write soon as possible Alonzo to Juty
R. Alonzo Cady Civil War Letter
Stone Fort July 18, 1864
I received your book & the papers to night and was much pleased to get them
For Johnny Reb has been raising perfect cain “round about yere” (as the southern people say) and we could not get anything to read for two weeks.
No dear Sister the rebs have not got your little Brother yet nor has a rebel ball come anywhere near me as I know of yet. I have heard the whistle of them as they flew on their mission of death. And we could see the flash of the guns of both sides and hear the shouting of the combatants as they pressed forward to the deadly conflict. O my Sister it is awful to see men that have been reared under the same laws and the same starry banner (long may it wave) strong and eager to take each other’s lives, but as we have made our bed so in it we must lie, and I will fight to the death before I see our dear old flag insulted. No my darling I would not have you take my place for is not your sweet life as dear as mine?
You should never hear that your soldier Brother ever deserted the dear old flag while star or stripe remains or to prove false to the Patriotic blood that courses through my veins. We have had some very sharp fighting all around us and it is still going on yet it is in the distance but not so far away but what we can see the flash and hear the roar of artillery we have not been called upon to fight with our muskets at least not Co I though the first Battalion of the 5th are in the field and Gen Hunter and the 2nd Battalion were in Harpers Ferry on the 4th in the fight but the third Battalion have used nothing yet but heavy artillery in any of the fights. I sent out a letter this morning to you and in it I stated something about the fighting here.
The Johnny’s got a pretty good hand in Maryland of horses money and provision and if they get back safe to Richmond with it they will have enough to last them some time but I am of the opinion that they will not get their whole train through safe, for they had ten or twelve hundred wagons loaded with spoil. They did not get into Pennsylvania this time for they got enough without going out of this state but we hear that 40,000 more of the hounds have started from
Richmond on another raid and if they have and take the same route that the others did we may see a little more fighting at this point. But I reckon they can never take Md. Hts. for it is a strongly fortified place. Well dear one it is nine o’clock at night and still the boom of cannon comes borne on the breeze and I must bid you adieu but hope not forever. With love and 1000 kisses to you I remain your loving Brother
Alonzo Cady, Esq.
P.S. I have not received Mothers letter which you spoke of but it may come in yet.
Stone Fort July 27, 1864
My Darling Sister
With the greatest pleasure do I now attempt to scribble an answer to your
loving letter of the 24th which came to hand tonight and was only two days coming. I know my darling one that you have been looking for a long time for
a letter from me but the blamed Johnny’s took it into their heads to capture the heights and so they commenced by cutting off communication to this point and
we could neither receive nor send a letter for some time. You see they thought there was nothing but Militia at this point but they soon found out their mistake when they attempted to storm the heights for we landed our shells right in amongst them with the precision of sharp shooters. If you would like to read the details of what our Battalion done in the fight to get the NY Daily Herald of July 24th & you can see the whole account of the battle. Our forces have been driving the rebs and have captured a good many prisoners and a great many of their wagons but they received reinforcements and our folks had to dig out for the heights again. And there is any quantity of troops here now & if the confederates want Maryland Heights let them come on. We are ready to try them again whenever they see fit to attack us. And you may bet a cookie they will see fits if they try us . We hear that they have crossed the Potomac about 12 miles from here but whether they are going to attack us or push on for Baltimore remains to be seen. You ask dear Sister which I would do compromise or fight it out. Now as I am a Yank I will answer your question by asking another. Could old Abe compromise now and save his honor and the honor of the country? No not according to his emancipation proclamation. And now let us fight it out if we have to draft every man who is able to carry arms and if we perish let us parish fighting for God & Liberty. How does that sound?
I hope if they draft on this last call they will draft all Copperheads for I know a great many that I should like to see down in Dixie and they are no better than I am to fight for our country. I hope we shall get paid soon for I want to send Ma some money for Delly is going to live with her & go to school this summer and fall for Molly has moved from under her Fathers roof and is living now with Susan. I will have to close for tonight for the bugle has sounded for to put out the lights so good night & pleasant dreams for you.
Good Morning Darling Sis how are you this pleasant morning. I have just been out to take a look at the troops down in the valley and to see if the rebs are about but nary a reb could I see. The Soldiers that are camped at the foot of the mountain look nice. There must be 15,000 of them and they are all busy cooking their breakfast. The reason why I did not finish my letter last night was that I got one from Molly at the same time and I thought I would write to you both for I knew you would be looking with anxious eyes till you hear from me again. You be sure my Sister that I shall write every time and I hope the rebs will let the railroad alone so that our letters will get through without so much delay. Well Sis you will laugh at this letter and say Loney is crazy but I ain’t but 3 or 4 of the boys in our shanty have got into an argument and of all the noise you ever heard they make the worst. Two Dutchman and two Irishman and it is a perfect bedlam and I can’t think of anything to write so you must excuse my harum scarum writing and if possible I will write a different letter next time. I tell you Juty, Molly writes brave letters lately and such letters do much to cheer me up coming as they do from a dear wife and your letters always sound so much like your dear self and may your feeble crys always be heard. Well dear one I must
close and get my breakfast of Beef Hard tack & coffee so Farewell for a time your Affectionate Brother till death.
Alonzo to Juty
Kiss the little ones for me.
R. Alonzo Cady Stone Fort Md. Hts. Aug 8th 1864
My Darling Sweet little Sis
It was with the greatest pleasure imaginable that I recd. your loving & thrice welcomed letter tonight and O how eagerly I grasped it when I saw your well known hand writing. It did not take me more than 15 minutes to tear off the envelope and read its precious contents
I am still able to eat my ration of hard tack and bacon and drink my coffee and to tell the truth I am enjoying myself tip top and I hope when you get this poor scribbling it will find you in good health & spirits.
Well Sis you wanted I should write the news & there is plenty of it just now. But the Rebs have not got Harpers Ferry nor are they like to unless they bring an overwhelming force for here and within one days march from here we have 100000 men and the best force of Cavelry in the service which is Sheridens and they have crossed over into Virginia to day and we shall probably hear from them soon The 2nd Battalion of our Regt. have been turned into Infantry and have been on the march ever since the 29 of July, they have camped down in pleasant valley yesterday (Sunday) and I went down and had a chat with Joe. He likes it well. He said it made his feet some sore for the first two or three days but he soon got over that he looked rather dirty for it is dirty traveling in these parts and some days they marched from 25 to 30 miles. They have moved again today but it is so smoky that you cant see a body of troops more than a mile off. I am on guard today and I must go on post for two hours and I will finish in the morning so good night and pleasant dreams . Tuesday Aug. 9 good morning darling it is a fine morning and bids fair to be another hot day. Dear Sister the ground they have got fixed up for the Johnnys in Elmira is well known to me for I stopped there a while last winter and there is where I got broke into a soldiers life and a good Breaking in it was. Bully for home guards if they have got to do something towards helping our country for I suppose they are mostly composed of copperheads and I hope the government will hold them while this rebellion lasts. I do not know as I am right in rejoicing over their destiny but I feel like this, that it is every mans duty who is able to carry a gun to turn out in the defence & protection of our beloved country.
O Sis. I have seen sights for the last week or ten days so many troops passing & repairing here, long black lines as they looked to be and then we had a Signal Station here and one could get a peep through their glasses once in a while. But it is so smoky this morning that we can see nothing of what is going on except in our own camp. The signal glasses are very powerful for on a clear day we can tell a man from a woman in Martinsburg with them a distance of 19 miles on an air line. Juty you must forgive me for not sending this letter off this morning for I slept till near time for the mail to leave and I had not time to finish it. But it shall go out in the morning. I got a letter from Molly last night but I sent her one yesterday morning so I did not write but shall today and send yours and hers tomorrow. She wrote that she was well but the little boys were not very well. O juty how had I want to see my little family especially my little cherubs and their Mother comes in for a big share of my love. Little Curly as I call him (you name him Winny) is so cunning for he just begins to talk and he has learned all the bad talk it is possible for a child so young to learn but still it sounds funny to hear him for he is only two years old. When he says anything naughty and his Ma chides him for it he will shut his little eyes and say, “ I want go sleep, I want go bed, I sleepy.” What do you think of that for a youngster. I think it pretty sharp for a child of mine.
Well Juty I hope I can get a furlough this fall or winter for I want to see you all O so bad and I shall try very hard to get one. But if I don’t come you must keep up good cheer and a brave heart and not let my absence depress your spirits, but remember that your brother is in the good cause and fighting for the starry banner which you love so well and may the good God above grant that we may be successful and that right speedily and if I am any judge we shall win for we are in the right. I shall have to spoil another sheet with my scribbling. Your papers told the truth when they said the rebs were in Pennsylvania for they did go there and burnt one town but they soon got out of that on the double quick too for our Cavelry got after them and gave them Hail Columbia.
good By, Lon
Rufus Alonzo Cady Letter from Civil War to sister Jerusha (Juty) August 11, 1864
I will send you one of the papers which we take here for a few clippings from the Baltimore American and the news in them are very good and you may believe it. You need not answer this by letter but when you write please let me know if you got them.
O Juty we have had the name of our Fort changed from Stone Frt. to Frt. McPherson in honor of the brave Gen McPherson who fell before Atlanta a short time ago, and we are fixing up the fort in good style and building another Magazine which will make 3 in the fort. Well Juty the wind is blowing pretty hard & I guess it will blow into a rain at least I hope so for we need it. I am well and hearty and hope you are the same.
Alonzo To Juty
Note: Served as a Private and a Corporal. Co. I, 5 N.Y.V. Heavy Artillary
Harpers Ferry, Va. Sep. 22, 1864
Loving & Beloved Sister not withstanding your injunction not to write till I received the pictures I must scribble a little today even if I do not send it out for I must tell you (though I suppose you know all about it ere this) of the great victory that our gallant Gen. Sheridan & his brave army has won this week. it is a great victory and all the country rejoices over it. he has utterly routed the enemy and captured two thousand five hundred to three thousand prisioners that are sound and as many that are wounded besides five pieces of Artilery with all their appendages a fifteen battle flags and has followed the retreating rebs thirty miles from the battle field. O what a glorious victory and what cause we have for rejoicing but many very many must weep for the beloved ones who lie cold in death and I do not know but what Henry is among the number for I have not heard from him since the battle I heard from him last week and he was all right then but now O Sister I tremble lest he may be gone to that bourne from whence no traveler ever returns but still I have hope and shall have till I learn the worst if there is any. For my buoyant nature will not above me to be downcast but never hopefull and it is better so. is it not my Sister. two hundred men from the 3rd Battalion and two hundred from the first got marching orders this morning & have started for the front but they are only going out as far as Winchester after the prisioners & will be back in four or five days. but they may possibly have a brush with Mosby’s guerrillas before they get back for he infests the country up towards Winchester very much but we occassionaly get one or two of his men we sent a squad of them to Washington a few days ago. they are the most bitter rebs I ever saw. I asked one of them the other day if he would take the oath of Allegiance if it was offered him and the answer was “No so help me god I will die & rot in prison first “ I said bully for you stick to your principals and I will to mine. but a great many of the prisioners are tired of the war & seemed well satisfied to be any where so as to get rid of fighting and some we have here come in of their own accord and expressed their willingness to take the oath. Saturday Sept. 24th Precious sister I will pen a few more lines today for I have just rec’d the papers you were so good & to send me please accept my heartfelt thanks for them I think the Harpers is a very good paper and the engraving called ” The Blessings of peace.” Is very pretty indeed and soon aye very soon shall we see those blessings for every where our Armies are victorious. O Sister if you could only be here today & see the recruits pouring in and the Rebel prisioners going out you would say the war is all most at an end and I think myself it cannot last long. We have received another batch of Rebs from the front. Yesterday there was over 1000 prisioners came in & they picked out all the officers & put them in our custody. There is 126 in all . 3 of them are Col’s and the rest are Majors, Capts., Lieut’s, &c and they were sending off a lot of the Rebs today.
I have talked with some of our prisioners and they say they never got licked so bad during the war as Sheridan has licked them in the valley and they also think that this fall will wind up the most of the fighting. One of the recruits which came in this morning told me he had been in the Rebel Service 3 years and was now going to try his hand in ours for one year he deserted from the rebs last July at Petersburg. he says they are robbing the cradle & the grave to fill up their thinned ranks and that they can’t hold out much longer I hope his words may prove true now another sheet
Harpers Ferry Va. Oct. 7, 1864
My Sweet Little Sister
How happy was your brother to get your loving & ever welcome letter which came to hand last night & brought the welcome news that you were well and doing well. First darling let me thank you for those pretty verses “When Loney comes marching home” They are very nice and I am looking forward to that day when I shall come home (whether marching or not it makes but little difference to me so that I get home) and shall behold my loved ones face to face. O what rejoicing there will be and what a hugging time we will have won’t we deary.
You ask me Juty if I do not think that God has put it in the heart of man to keep me where there is so little danger. I do not know but it is so far I have been very lucky so far. Firstly in choosing the 5th Artly and next in getting into the 3rd Battalion and if I was as good and pure as my little Sister perhaps I would attribute it to something else besides luck do not think I am getting skeptical sister for I believe there is a God who ruleth all things but why is it that he had permitted such an unholy war to be so prolonged? Is it to punish the nation for its sins. If it is I think we are punished quite enough. for the flower of our Country the young & vigorous are slain by thousands and yet thousands more must fall or sacrifice ere the demon Secession is uprooted But “as we have made our bed so in it we must lie And there is no use crying over spilled milk and I for one am willing to go into the field and face a thousand deaths rather than to give up one rod of this beautiful land to the Southern fire – eaters. Yes Sister Harvey was a good boy and many pleasant hours have I passed in his company in my boyhood days but those days are passed never to return. 7 o’clock P.M. dear Juty I have just received your 2nd letter so I will answer them both in one and it must be a short one for I have just got one from George and I want to answer that tonight and I have only half a candle to do it by. I wish I had some news for you this time but news is scarce as hens teeth to day.
I must say a little to the family Tell Hod to never mind his bad writing but write at any rate for I love to see his writing for it makes me think of old times & tell him to vote and let the world know he is an American citizen I am not afraid to let anybody know that Abe & Andy are my choice. That makes me think of what the Rebel Officer said to me , I was on guard at their room door one day and a Reb Major got into conversation with me and among other things he asked me what were my politics. I told him Republican to the back bone, says I. I voted for uncle Abe once and shall do so again. He said if Abe was re elected it would only prolong the war I told him that would make no difference to me for I enlisted for 3 years and expected to serve my time and if they was not licked by that time I would go in for another 3 years. Says he bully for you. Stick to your principles no matter what comes of it. So much for that. Tell Em that uncle Lon is glad he is all right and hopes he will keep so. Tell Linny that I accept the love & kiss she sent and that she must learn very fast so she can write to her uncle. Tell Ella that “untle onny is glad she is doin to school when she gets bid.” I would really like to hear her sing well I would you know for if I was near enough to hear her little voice I could soon see my darling Sister. I have heard nothing about Lee getting hurt but if the news should come that his head was stone to pieces I would shout till I could shout no more but I am afraid it will be some time ere we hear such news. Do not think I am getting discouraged for I am not No, Siree I am as gay as a lark and as for any sorrow I don’t know scarcely what the word means unless indeed I hear of some of my darling ones at home being sick, Keep up good heart Darling for I think you will again see that picture, that of myself & little family do not be scared about my stomach for I assure you it is alright for I am as hearty as a buck but to ease your mind I will promise to take some pills as soon as I get back to camp for they are in my knap sack on the Heights. bully for those union ladies who wore the badges at the democratic meeting they are the right stock but our Northern women are not quite as brave as the Southern for we have had two women in the prison who had put on a union uniform and were acting as Reb Spies but they got caught at it and have been sent to Baltimore Now Sis I must stop and write to George so good bye for a short time & write soon . accept a little love and a few thousand kisses from your Brother
R. Alonzo Cady Fall 1864
Darling Juty I must write a little more for one sheet will not hold all I want to say though what I do say don’t amount to much. But this much I can say & that is everything looks favorable this fall for the Union & if you could see the recruits that pass through here to join Sheridan & all the Rebs that go the other way to some Northern prison you would say the same. Even now in the room where I am writing is between one & two hundred recruits answering to their names as their Regiments are called & there has a whole string of Johnnys gone up stairs. I don’t know how many but I should judge there was over a hundred of them. You see they keep coming and going like the old womans soup. Two Rebs came over at the Musket place yesterday and gave themselves up for they said they had got tired of fighting. One of the recruits that are stopping here told me he had served 3 years in the Rebel Army and when his time was up they pressed him for the war but he deserted from them last July at Petersburg and now he has got on blue. Bully for him.
I wrote you a letter the other day & in it I told you about the big battles which Gen Sheridan & his gallant Army have fought in the Shenandoah valley and his victories have been about as great as Shermans at Atlanta. O he is one of the best Generals in the service. And I suppose you have heard that when Grant heard the news he ordered a salute of the guns to be fired and all the guns were shotted out and aimed directly at the city of Petersburg. How that must have made the Rebs wince to find so much iron coming at them at once. I would like to have seen that firing. You ask what kind of weather we have down here and I will tell you it is getting quite cool nights but when the sun does shine in the day time it is still hot enough to spoil eggs but for a day or two it has been quite moist but I reckon it will soon pass away and be dry again at least I hope so for it is quite disagreeable to stand guard in such damp weather but we soldiers have to put up with a great many things that are disagreeable but the most of us are willing to endure any kind of hardships to have this unjust & cruel war brought to a close but for me an unconditional surrender. You can see I am a U.S. Grant man. But I must confess we have a great man in this army who came from other motives than Patriotism but we will let that pass for what it is worth if they only fight well. I shall have to come to a conclusion pretty soon or I should have room to say good bye. Give my love & specks to Hod & tell him for me to vote for an honest man next Nov. Kiss the little ones for me and accept as many as you please for your self and now may God in his goodness bless & preserve you till we meet again write soon
Yours forever Alonzo to Juty
Note: shotted - cannons loaded with grape and/or canister shot instead of single shot/ball
Rufus Alonzo Cady Letter December 21, 1864
My Precious Sister
How happy was your Soldier Brother to receive your loving letter which came to hand just long enough ago for me to read it & it was with trembling fingers that I broke the seal . Although I recognized your well known handwriting & how eagerly I ran over the first few lines to find out how you were. I was
Happy you were still able to write a few lines to me, but O my darling one will it ever be that we shall behold each other again. I hope and trust we shall for if you grow worse or get dangerously sick & send a telegram to me I will come home if I have to take a french furlough. Let the consequences be what
You do not know nor can imagine how lonesome I have been since I heard from you last for Molly is sick and is at Mothers & you so very sick that it did seems sometime that I should fly away. O if I could only be home for a short time now. I think I could come back perfectly satisfied. I would not care so much about coming home if my dear ones were all well, for I don’t think I shall have to serve another year for the rebs are badly whipped at all points. Gen Thomas had completely routed Hood and captured 64 out of 65 pieces of artillery & about eleven Thousand prisoners and Gen. Sherman is at Savannah and is probably throwing shot & shell into the doomed city ere this. We fired a salute of 100 guns here on last Friday & again on Saturday in honor of Sherman & Thomas, if you had been within hearing you would have thought the rebs were coming again. O Sister we have been very jubilant over these great victories. I say we, I mean all my comrades, for I could not control my feelings sometimes when I thought of my darling ones so far from me & on beds of Sickness. Often when on duty and at the dead of night while walking the lonely Sentinel post my mind would wander from my duty to my home & to you and the tears would start from my eyes in spite of all I could do. I do not regret that I am in the army, but I do so want to see my darling s especially when they are in sickness and trouble. May God in his mercy help you to bear up under your great trials & spare our lives till we meet again. Dear one I must write a letter to Hod so I will have to close my letter to you. Good by my darling and may God always bless you. Write soon if you are able to & if not I hope Hod will do so soon as you get this. Farewell again for a short time. Your loving & beloved brother Alonzo
Dear Brother Hod
With pleasure I saw your well known hand writing again for I thought you had forgotten me entirely but I see you have not. I am as well & tough as a bear & have been ever since I have been here except a week or two when I had a cold in my face. I have done my duty ever where I have been put and have always been ready every time except those two weeks but that don’t make any difference in this
Battalion for the man that does the most here gets the least favors. I do not expect to get a furlough
unless I get news that some of my folks are dangerously sick & then I will have to work very hard to get it, but if there are any given this winter I shall try very hard to get one myself.
Yes Hod you say right the blood hounds must be licked & they are getting it now right smart. I hope this thing will play out in the course of the next summer for it has run about long enough but let us wait & hope for the best. Well Hod we have no news here except that it is as cold as blazes and the wind is blowing like fury tonight. Take good care of my darling Sister & I know you will. I must close for want
of room. Please write again soon from your Brother Lon
Dear Sister these verses I sent to you they express my feelings exactly. Lon to Juty
Poe has got back to the Regt and was up to see me Sunday. He is well. R.A. Cady