Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cory Letters -- March 25, 1862

Note: John Parker was another private from Company E, 6th Cavalry. The mention of his shoulder running is most likely a reference to the draining of the abscess that he had there when he was admitted. I’m not sure what certificate he referred to. It could be a discharge certificate for disability, but the one in his records is dated June 1862. Kate’s letter may have been perused by censors, though I didn’t know they were active this early in the war. The reference to free government land is interesting, as I haven’t seen anything else offered but bounties so far in my research.

Kalorama Hospital
March 25th, 62

Dear Mother,

I am sitting on a big chair with a stand beside me & I take the opportunity of writing to you. I recd 2 letters from John Parker this forenoon they were at Alexandria. One he wrote last night, the other this morning. They have gone in the fleet to Fortress Monroe. He sent my satchel to Washington by express.

Our Tenant Frederick Scriver has gone to the city after it he is a good fellow. A young man died in here last night & there is another that is almost dead. About 6 weeks ago there was 81 Patients here now there is only 50. It is a week ago Sunday night since any died there was three died that night. They have inspection twice a week. There was 10 discharged from here this morning. There is but two sick ones in the room besides myself. My shoulder has got most done running and I can lay a great deal easier. I can walk some but my limbs are weak yet. I gain in flesh & strength & hope every day. It is a pleasant place this. I can look out of the window when sitting up. The opposite hills are covered with tents the men are drilling now about a thousand in No. John said he would write to me as quick as they landed and if they are going to stay in one place long enough I will send for that certificate & my pay & send them to you. I want you to tell me when you go over to Aunt Mary’s. Also where Homer is. Has Beagle left Adrian yet. When I got Kates last letter there was another envelope over it dated about three days later than it ought to be & from Washington.

They say that we wont get Paid off untill May there will be four months pay due us then. They are paying the western troops now. Have you heard from George yet. If I get discharged I shant get my $100 bounty but I can draw 160 acres of government land. How would you like to go out west and live. I know you wouldn’t like to leave Adrian.

Evening. I did not get my sachel they said it hadn’t come but could tomorrow & then if it hasn’t come leave the recpt & we will see to it. I hope you will write as often as you can & Kate to tell me all the news Ha Ha.

I cant think of anything more to write just now so good by write soon.
James H. Cory

Mrs. B.M. Cory

Thursday, July 24, 2008

6th Cavalry -- July 1862

The regiment continued active campaigning in July, withdrawing down the York River back to Fortress Monroe and shipping to Harrison’s Landing on the James River by month’s end. Companies C remained in Washington under Captain A.W. Evans. The regiment's assigned strength this month was 889 officers and enlisted men, down 32 from June.

Of the 42 officers assigned, 22 were listed as present for duty. Assistant Surgeon J.H. Pooley was detached from the regiment to work at Fortress Monroe, and Doctor D.L. Rogers joined in his place on July 18th. Captain August V. Kautz continued to command the regiment. Half of the regiment’s 12 companies were led by lieutenants. The deaths of Lieutenants Hugh McQuade and Peter McGrath finally showed in this month’s return.

Captain Kautz’ narrative of the month’s activities is listed at the bottom of the month’s muster rolls. The camp is listed as “Camp Harrison’s Landing Va.”

“Regiment left Yorktown on July 1st under Genl Emory and arrived at Hampton July 2nd. Embarked at Fortress Monroe July 7th and arrived same day at Harrison’s Landing on James River to present place of encampment.”

Five captured members of Company M from the Slatersville fight returned to the regiment as paroled prisoners this month. Unfortunately, eight more went missing and were supposed taken prisoner.

The regiment had 848 enlisted men at the end of the month, but only 607 present for duty. Of the 122 troopers absent, 12 were on detached service. The reason for the sharp decrease in absent soldiers was the arrival of Captain Brisbin’s Company L from Washington. Health conditions continued to take a toll on the regiment’s strength, with 62 troopers sick in camp and 96 sick in hospitals away from the regiment. 50 soldiers served on extra duties away from the regiment, mostly as teamsters for the Quartermaster Department. Two troopers were absent on leave, and one was absent without leave.

The monthly return reports one soldier died in June. Private Francis Erlanger of Company G died of disease at Devil’s Island on June 4, 1862. Thirteen privates deserted from the regiment this month. Six privates were discharged for disability since the last return.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Diverging Paths

Patrick and William McNamara were born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1832 and 1835 respectively. Both of them immigrated to the United States and enlisted in the 1st US Cavalry in 1856. Both of them reenlisted for a second term in Company F, 4th US Cavalry on October 3, 1861 for a three year term at Fort Kearney, Nebraska. Their reenlisting officer was 1st Lieutenant John A. Wilcox.

Patrick's reenlistment documents describe him as 5'8 1/4" tall, with light hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. He was 29 years old. William's documents list him as 5' 6 1/2" tall, also with light hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion at age 26.

In 1864, their paths diverged. William reenlisted for a third term as a private in Nashville, Tennessee on March 19th. Patrick was discharged at the end of his term of service as a private on October 3rd, also in Nashville, Tennessee. From there the two disappear into the mists of history.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cory Letters -- December 12, 1861

Note: This letter provides some insight to the financial straits on the homefront back in Michigan with him, his father and possibly another brother away in the army. Five dollars was nearly half a month’s pay for James at this time.

Dec. 12th, 1861

Dear Mother,

I recd your letter this noon (Thursday). I was glad to hear from you but sorry to hear that you were ill. You did not say whether you got that Dollar or not sent one to pay the Freight on that box: I sent a two & a half gol piece the fore part of this week.

I have been having my jacket fixed and when it comes back if I have a dollar left I will send it to you. I hope that you will get what I sent. If you can borrow five dollars untill next payday which ought to be the 1st of next month. I will send it to you and more if I can. I can not write any more tonight as I have got to go on stable guard from now (6 oclock) untill ten or so good night.

13th. It is very cold this morning in our tents. I hope we shall soon be in our barracks. For the last two or three days every odd minute that we get is occupied in putting and edge on our sabers. We have wore one small grindstone almost up. We grind untill Tapps eight oclock. My fingers are getting so cold that I cant write any more. If you get the money that I have sent I want you to tell me all of it. Write often and tell Kate to do so to.

From your son J.H. Cory

Mrs. B.M. Cory

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Patrick Larkin, 5th US Cavalry

Patrick Larkin was born in Galway, Ireland in 1843. He enlisted as a bugler in Company F, 2nd US Cavalry when it was forming in 1855.

He was reenlisted into the same company by Captain Richard W. Johnson at Fort Mason, Texas on June 1, 1860. He was 27 at the time of his reenlistment, and the papers describe him as 5'8" tall, with a dark complexion, dark hair and blue eyes.

Bugler Larkin escaped Texas with his company in early 1861, and was remounted at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania prior to the first battle of Bull Run. He continued to serve with his company until the winter of 1862-63. He was discharged for disability on February 24, 1863 at the regiment's Camp near Falmouth, Va.

(source: enlistment documents)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From One Side to the Other

In early July 1862, the 6th US Cavalry moved from the York River side of the peninsula at Fortress Monroe to the James River side. Due to some confusion, they were initially the only regiment of regular cavalry to rejoin the army. The diary of Captain August Kautz, commanding the regiment this month, provides some insight into the move.

“July 7. --- We were turned out at 3 o’clock this morning and made arrangements to go on board transports. We got on board the Arrowsmith with my company and left about 8 o’clock. The passage was pleasant and uninterrupted, until within five or six miles of Harrison’s Landing, when we were fired into from both sides of the river by guerrillas. Some shots came very near, but no one was hurt. We got ashore immediately and were all comfortably in camp long before night. Boats that passed up before and after us were fired into by artillery from both sides of the river.” (Supplement to the Official Records, Volume 2, page 129)

From the following day’s entry: “All the squadrons arrived except the Third. It is reported that an order from the War Department has retained the balance of the cavalry at Fortress Monroe. General Emory has been relieved and assigned to Naglee’s Brigade of infantry. General Stoneman has been assigned to the command of all the cavalry in the Army of the Potomac.”

The Third Squadron, under the command of Captain Sanders of Company A, arrived on the 11th. On the 12th, Company L, commanded by Captain James S. Brisbin, finally joined the regiment from Washington.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cory Letters - November 7, 1861

Note: I have been unable so far to determine what unit(s) James’ father and brother Nate may have served in. George W. Haight was another private in Company E, 6th US Cavalry. The Lieutenant Colonel that Cory refers to is William H. Emory, who joined the regiment from service on the frontier with the 1st (later 4th) U.S. Cavalry at the outbreak of the war.

Camp east of Capitol Hill
Washington D.C. Nov 7th, 1861

Dear Mother,

I sent you a letter the other day and had I known what I know now I would have sent this small sum of money which I enclose now. I wish I had four times as much to send you. However every little helps and I am glad that I have as much as this to spare, it is half that I have and pay day is a good way of yet. I am sorry to hear about Nate’s disappointment. It may make him worse or it may make him better. I do hope that he will learn a lesson by it and never be caught like that again. I wrote him a good letter and I hope that he will write me a pleasant one in return.

This morning I dispatched two to MI, one to George and the other to William also one to Kate. I sealed it up in a hurry this morning without thinking to put the money in it our mail goes out early in the morning.

If Pa is agoing to answer my letter it is almost time that I knew it. I hope he will but I doubt it some for he did not answer them when I was to home. It makes me wish myself to home now you are all alone. I used to think that if George would go away from home I should be a little better boy he provoked me so and now that he is away it makes me wish my self to home once in a while.

I hope that this war will end and I be discharged because I want to go to school so bad. But I do not think there s any danger of their discharging us regulars untill our time is out. We will be sent on the Frontier probably as our Lieut.-Col (he will be our Col. I guess) is an old Frontiersman. George Haight heard him say that he should go there. I hope that it may be so if they keep us three years for they will not be so strict there and then I can get a Furlough to come home once a year.

If I get a letter from Pa or Nate I will tell you all about them. I do not know how long we shall stay here but if we remain a week longer our barracks will be done. I went through them to day. We are to have straw ticks and three will sleep in a bunk with some.

I want you to write once in a while twice in a while if you can and Kate six times as often. Tell me all about our old neighbors out of town and in. No more at present.
From your son James Cory.

Mrs. B.M. Cory
P.S. enclosed you will find a 2 ½ gold piece.
J.H. Cory

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Rebuilding a Unit History

In August of 1864, Mosby’s guerrillas captured and destroyed the regimental trains of the Reserve Brigade. These trains contained the regimental and company records and the personal effects of some officers. Some of the regiments’ wagons were saved and with them some of the records, but the majority of the regiments’ historical records for the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th U.S. Cavalry were lost.

After the war, the 6th U.S. Cavalry attempted to recapture those parts of its history that hadn’t reached the Adjutant General’s Office in Washington. On May 18, 1866, regimental adjutant Captain Adna R. Chaffee issued a circular to all of the companies directing them to report their activities during the war. Fortunately, many of the junior officers were still serving with the regiment. Captain Chaffee then compiled these company histories into a history of the regiment during the Civil War.

Many of these company histories have been lost, but I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire copies of several of them. In many instances, the officers submitting the reports were serving in the regiment as junior officers and sergeants during the war. There aren’t reports from the Greggs, Lowell and Kautz, but there are reports from McLean, Whitside and Irwin. It will take some time to work through them, but there have already been some intriguing tidbits of information.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cory Letters - May 5, 1861

Note: Kalorama Hospital received all contagious disease cases in Washington such as smallpox, mumps, measles, typhoid and erysipelas. The cases were sent to Kalorama so as not to endanger more populous neighborhoods in the city. Formerly the mansion of a man named Fletcher, it rested on 100 wooded acres on Kalorama Heights on 21st Street NW. A Fred Myers served as a private in Company B, 6th US Cavalry, but since James only mentions him at this hospital he could be from any unit.

Kalorama Eruptive Fever
Hospital, May 5th 1861

Dear Mother,

Today I was more successfull than Saturday. I got my pay after going up in his office the second time. I went up to see fred myer & he told me to give them a Real King Nr that made me mispent & saucy. I hope that you will get it soon for I know that you need it. I mailed $25.00 or rather sent by Adams Express. I sent you a letter Saturday. When you direct your letters don’t put the Regt.

A young fellow that enlisted in Adrian is in a Hospital in the city. He will get his discharge I guess. The discharge a great many. If they come a round this way mabe they will throw me out. I ame very tired & cant think of anything to write. Write soon. Love to all. Yours & Co. J.H. Cory

Mrs. B.M. Cory