Marcus W. Robbins, Historian & Archivist
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H. W. Poole, CO H, 3rd Regt, Fort Monroe, to Cyrus Thompson, Esq., Boston, April 28, 1861.

Samuel Wolcott to his father, October 23, 1861.

PVT John Snyder, Cape Hatress, NC, to a friend, February 4, 1862.

John M. Amshire, Norfolk, VA, to his wife, May 15, 1862

John M. Amshire, Gosport Navy Yard, to his wife, May 22, 1862

Discharge Certificate for Volunteer, May 23, 1862

Letter of Dr. Solomon Sharp to Commodore Livingston, Norfolk Navy Yard, Norfolk, January 24, 1863

Isaiah Hanscom letter to Joseph Frost, November 18, 1864

Letter to Edward Cavently from Treasury Department, April 28, 1870.

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H. W. Poole, CO H, 3rd Regt, Fort Monroe, to Cyrus Thompson, Esq., Boston, April 28, 1861


[Page 1]
Fort Monroe, Virginia, April 28, 1861

Dear Sir:

As some of our boys promised to write you, and none of them have yet fulfilled their pledges, I thought I would spend a few moments in doing so. We all of us have so many correspondents that our letters are necessarily short and hurried and if critically examined would show many imperfections.

The Spalding landed us (the 3rd Regt.) at this fort about 11 o'clock a.m. Saturday the 20th, the 4th Regt. having been here 5 or 6 hours before we arrived. Our passage Friday being pretty rough, most of the men were suffering from the effects of sea sickness, but at about 6 o'clock p.m. we were marched aboard the Pawnee for a pleasure excursion to Norfolk Navy Yard. The Commodore of the Pawnee (Paulding) wished to take the 4th Regiment aboard as they had been ashore the longest and had had three rations served to them since landing, but Col. Packard objected saying his men were too tired. Hearing this Col. Wardrop exclaimed, "My G_d, my men can go!" and in reply to Com. Paulding's enquiry as to how much time was needed for preparation, he replied, "fifteen minutes." The [Page 2] result of our going you have doubtless seen in the papers long since. The Navy Yard was completely ruined, the ships and their houses completely destroyed, their magnificent dry dock, costing millions of dollars, blown up, and an immense quantity of guns, pistols, cutlasses, powder, shells, etc., put where it can never be of any use. It was a good streak of luck for Government, as it would have all been seized the very next day by the Succession Army, if we had not used it up so completely, and the very guns we spiked and the ammunition we spoiled would have been directed against Fort Monroe. Our Regiment was favored by not being attacked, for so many of us were nearly dead from the fatigues from a sea voyage that we could have made little resistance, and huddled as we were, nearly 400 of us volunteers, we should have been decidedly worse than nothing, as we would have stood in the way of the Marines who manned the vessel.

The Rebels appear to be busy making preparations to attack us, but nearly everybody in the Fort doubts their making any demonstration. We have command of the river by having the Man-of-War Cumberland stationed here. She is one of the vessels we took up in Norfolk and towed down and has already proved very serviceable to us. Last Thursday she fired into a tug which was towing out toward Norfolk a schooner, and the [Page 3] shot taking effect upon her wheelhouse she was brought to, and we made prizes of the tug and schooner both. On bringing the schooner to the wharf she was found to be commanded by a sailor who only a short time since deserted from the Cumberland, and it is said he was hung by the Marines. The craft was completely loaded with all the munitions of war including guns, gun carriages, ammunition, provisions, etc., and proved to be quite a prize – the little tug has been pressed into Uncle Sam's service, and very useful she proves.

This Fort answers very well the description given of it in the Boston Post about the time we sailed. It is a beautiful place and the transition from the barren and snow-clad hills of New England to the luxuriance of spring as seen here is well worth a trip to see. Our parade ground is covered with green grass and the trees which border the walks are just leafing out. There is a capital Brass Band in the Fort and they give us every morning some of the best music I ever heard. So beautiful is the scene, that we can hardly realize that it is possible that all this loveliness may soon be a barren waste. One cannot truly imagine the change which the horrors of an actual war may cause to pass over the face of everything here. I hope we may not witness the sight, but I do believe that if compelled to fight, the 3rd will [Page 4] give a good account of herself.

I suppose there is an intense feeling in the North. Our Company have not had many letters, so all the news we get is from Baltimore papers, but even those represent a decision of purpose on the part of the North, and North West to stand by our "Father Abraham." We expect soon to have northern papers regularly, and they will seem nearly as good as a letter. I long to see some of the Boston dailies.

You must excuse the style, etc., of this letter as I don't have time to be very particular and to have to write just as it comes into my head. I would be pleased to hear from you, at any time, and trusting you will overlook all errors.

Very respectfully yours,
H. W. Poole

[To:] Cyrus Thompson, Esq.

Address: H. W. Poole
Care Capt. Harlen
Co. A 3rd Reg.
Fort Monroe,

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Letter of Samuel Wolcott to father, October 23, 1861.


October 23rd, 1861
On board Steamer Illinois

My Dear Father,

We are now lying at anchor near the walls of Fortress Monroe. We have been on our way here since Monday morning. We sailed all day Thursday and at eve anchored off the mouth of the Potomac. Weighing anchor again yesterday morning, we started again and continued on our course until between three and four in the afternoon. It had been raining all day and the fog was so dense at that time that the officers thought it was not safe to continue on their course ay longer, so we lay to last night again. And at daylight this morn we set sail and arrived here about ten o'clock. There is the largest fleet laying here that I have ever seen. I think there are between 75 to 100 large steamer vessels. Some of them are used as transports for carrying men and provisions and others are gunboats, of these there are a large number of large one. There are two men of war laying near our bow, each mounting forty-four guns. I think there are transports here sufficient for carrying fifty thousand men, beside what the gunboats will carry. I do not know whether we are to land here or not, but things do not appear as if we were, our Colonel has now gone to the Flagship of the Squadron. Perhaps you may know more that is going on here than I do. You certainly know more of what is passing elsewhere. I only know what I see. There are a great many rumours here in regards to our own destination as well as to what is transpiring around us, but those who circulate them know as little of their truth as do the newspaper editors who have been publishing like rumours for facts during the last six months. When this fleet moves, I do not think anyone save those in high authority will know. The fort here is a very large thing, mounting a great many guns. The walls are not as high as I supposed they were. They are built of stone and the top is covered with turf. I should think that the stone part might be from fifteen to twenty feet high and the turf from three to five feet high more on top. Small boats are continuously moving between the large steamers and communicating with them. I do not know if I can write any thing else that will interest you now. I would like to write often. I have not heard anything from you since I left. Anything from home will interst me. Let me know how you get along with work and what you do with those notes. You need not answer all my letters separately but write to me as you find time. I choose to occupy a large portion of my spare time writing. I do not get a very great variety of reading, and I have not attempted to scribe any yet, indeed on board this crowded ship there is no very quiet place. If I sit down to write, someone is continuously laughing and jesting within hearing and nearly every moment someone jars my arm or seat so that I do not make my letters look very well, but if you can read them that is the great consideration. Direct you letter same as before to Washington.

Give my love to all at home, and to my friends who may inquire after me.

Your affectionate son,
Samuel B. Wolcott

(7th Conn. Inf.)

PVT John Snyder, Cape Hatress, NC, to a friend, February 4, 1862

Cape Hatress, North Carolina
February 4, 1862

Dear Friend, I received your letter on the 1st of February and was glad to hear from you and I will answer your letter with the greatest of pleasure and am glad that you are well and hope this may find you still in good health. You know that I have no friend in this part of the world. I always ___ pray we receive a letter from someone I am acquainted with. Dear friend, you stated in your letter that it was lonesome since I left but I expect to come back again in a few months for I don't think the war will last long. How do you think that I feel alone here with all strange to me and I in a strange land. I often, often think of home but I cannot come till the war is over then I expect that ___ ____ shall be the first place. The splendid band that I hear here don't please me as well as your singing I would love to spend one night with the young folks up there, who have all kind of fun but that who have all kind of fun but that may soon take ___ for we are going in to a battle tomorrow and we expect to see somehow frightening but I hope that we shall be victorious in the end we are going to Roanoke Island and some other batteries along the same river we are bound to take them at the peril of our lives. I am well at this time. That is about all the news at this time but after the battle I will tell you more about it. Excuse my writing with a pencil. We have been now twenty nine days on the sea and it is not convenient to write for the ship is always rocking. Dear Friend, I must now bring my letter to a close. No more but still remain your affectionate friend. John Snyder

I here write a few line to Miss Mary Poorman. I understand that you want to know where William Robinson is. He is here in the same Company that I am and me and him and his brother sleep together. Wm was glad to hear the letter read that I received from you. I have seen him kiss her likeness that he got from her. Wm sent her a letter about two weeks ago and he has told her all about it. I see that you are both single yet and I want you to stay so till I come home again so that I can have the chance to make your furniture. I will both of the Robinsons with me when I come home then who will have some fun?

Give my best respect to all inquiring friends. No more but still remain your affectionate friend.

John Snyder

I want you both to write soon for I will be glad to hear from both. Good bye

Direct your letters to Private John Snyder, Co. C, 51st Regiment. PV 2nd Brigade, Coast Division, Fortress Monroe, VA.

* * *

John M. Amshire's letter to his wife from Norfolk, VA, May 15, 1862

Norfolk, VA
1862, May the 15

Dear Wife, I take the opportunity to inform you that I am well and enjoy good health. We have heard or had marching orders for a week or more. I believe I said something about it in my other letter and yesterday we were ordered to march to Norfolk. We packed and left Newport News about three o'clock and arrived at Norfolk about five evening. We hadn't been there not over half an hour before I received your letter with a lock of Emes hair and it gave me much pleasure, but you must tell Eme Jan that I kisst her hair but Pa would like to see her blue eyes and all that hair and kiss the little [Page 2] mouth. Tell her to be a good little girl till Pa comes home.

We took up our quarters in the United States Marine Hospital last night and it is one of the largest buildings I have ever been in. It goes about 200 feet front all around and leaves a square of a hundred feet one way and about 100 feet the other. The building is four stories and is balcony or stoop on both sides of each story and each room has a window. There is no doors, the windows answer for doors. There is a nice garden and three sides of it with all kinds of flowers and fruit trees. I have seen the lemon and orange tree and fig and others I cannot mention. I have seen nice places but none that comes up with this. As for Norfolk I have not enough to say anything about and Portsmouth on the opposite side of the River I can't say anything about. [I sent you a leaf from the garden where we stayed last night. I don't know the name of it [written upside down on the top of this page]

[Page 3] There are nice looking places the Rebels have not destroyed and one reason they had not [ink blots word] it is about as strong a place as any I have seen except Fortress Monroe. There are plenty of Sucesh here yet and still believe that Jeff Davis is coming with a hundred and fifty thousand men and that they had defeated MacGladden, and so on. I said that we were at Norfolk. We did not land there but a little north and on the West side of the River and about a mile north of Portsmouth. I can't tell you where we are going but it is not far. I will tell you more some other time. I want you to take good care of yourself and the little ones. Try and do the best you can. Tell the boys to write and tell me what they want to now. I will stop writing for we were ordered to march and being on duty I put away my paper and started. We __ through Portsmouth and we camped on the Navy Yard. There were a [Page 4] good many stars and stripes shook at us as we passed through the city, and we were glad to leave our last nights quarters for we found a barrel of powder and a good many shells there this morning all ready for explosion. Some of our fool boys were playing with them when found. I was saying that the Sucesh had not destroyed anything but I was mistaken for I never saw such destruction of property as there is here at the Navy Yard and all the machinery is burned. There were some of the largest and nicest brick buildings I ever saw. Uncle Sams property is burnt. Most of the private property is saved, most all the folks are here yet. There is still some fire here yet. There were 4 Sucesh soldiers came in here this morning and gave themselves up. They took ___ the other they let go. [missing a word or two] They were very thankful for their liberty.

It has been raining very hard all day and it is ten o'clock at night and I have to bid you good night.
[Written upside down at top of page] Nothing more at present. Yours forever. God bless and protect you while you sleep. Kiss Eme Jan for me. Send me some postage stamps for I can't get any here.

* * *

John M. Amshire's letter to his wife from Gosport Navy Yard, May 22, 1862


Gosport Navy Yard
May the 22nd, 1862

Dear Wife, as I have nothing to do at present, to let you know that I am well and enjoy good health. I received your letter yesterday and was glad to hear that you were all well. As I was saying I had nothing to do.

I washed two shirts this morning before going out on drill from seven till after eight and from half after four till six makes three hours a day but this afternoon it is raining and we have nothing to do. The weather is very warm here at present, from [Page 2] ten to three it is very warm and I have been trying to rest, then I would get sleep, then I would try to sleep, then the flies would trouble me, so that I would write. You wrote some time ago that I did not write as often that I might but I think that I am ahead of you. Now there is three letters that you have not answered yet, and I think that is you that are forgetting now. Oh yes, you did write me that the mop handle is broke, and the back door was off its hinges, and you wanted me to tell you what I had to eat. As to the first I can't say anything about, the eating part I can tell you this morning we had coffee, pork and crackers, for dinner we had beans and bean soup and corned beef and pork and crackers. Tonight we will have fresh beef and crackers. [Page 3] Sometimes we have pea soup, sometimes we have cornmeal pudding and molasses and then we have rice and sugar, and sometimes we have cracked corn but that don't go off very fast here. You need not look so wishful at our dinners and supers for you won't get any of them. I must tell you the prices of things here. Pork from 37 to 40 cents. Coffee, one dollar. Tea, 3.50 dollars and a half. Flower, 12 dollars a barrel. Cheese, 1.00 a pound. Sugar from 40 to 80 cents per pound. Eggs 40 cents a dozen. Fresh fish that would weigh 6 pounds, 1.00 dollar. Strawberries, 20 cents a quart, the nicest I ever saw. I had a good mess of them yesterday. I priced some ____ yesterday and they wanted 63 cents a yard. Everything is dear here and I can't see how the poor people live here. Everything is ____ here except flowers and wherever you look eyes can see nothing except flowers and them of the most beautiful quality they have the nicest.

[Page 4] I have read a great deal about the South and its beauty but I thought it was all a romance, but I find it all so. I like old Virginia and its scenery better than its inhabitants.

I am surprised you are acquainted with the War news. What a splendid victory we had in taking Norfolk and Portsmouth __ . Abe Lincoln was along at the time and I saw him here and spoke to him. Secretary Stanton was along with him, they looked over the ruins and I understand that he is going to commence building again. We received the President's thanks last night for our good behavior in taking Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Now I have told you a little of everything and I must close my letter by telling you to tell the girls to write me some long letters. The say Richmond is taken. So good night, Mariette, and sweet dreams. Kiss Eme for me. ___ yours forever. John. M. Amshire to Mariette Amshire and Hatty, Sarah and Eme Jan.

* * *

Discharge Certificate for Volunteer

To be given to volunteers at the time of their discharge
To enable them to receive their pay.

I certify, on honor that Oscar Pennovsky, a ___ of Captain J. Hoefflings Company K of the Twenty Regiment NY Infantry Volunteers [abbreviated] of the state of New York, born in Kernitchau (spelling in question), State of Saxony, aged 26 years, 5 feet 7 inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes, light hair, and by occupation a weaver, having joined the Company on its original organization at Williamsburg, and enrolled in it at the muster into the service of the United States at New York on the sixth day of May 1861, for the term of two years, and having served honestly and faithfully with his Company in Virginia to the present State, is now entitled to a discharge by reason of hernia inguinalis.

The said Oscar Pennovsky was last paid by Paymaster Major McLyon to include the 30th April 1862, and has pay due him authorized to volunteer soldiers, or militia so discharged.

Ocsar Pennovsky has received an clothing from the U. S. Government amounting to 31 dollars and 69/100.

Given in duplicate at Camp Gosport Navy Yard this 23 May 1862.

Captain Joseph Hoeffling
Commanding Company


* * *

Letter of Dr. Solomon Sharp to Commodore Livingston, Norfolk Navy Yard, Norfolk, January 24, 1863


U S Naval Hospital
Portsmouth, VA, January 24, 1863


I have given the bearer George Miller permssion to come and see you relative to a Telegraph Dispatch he has received.

I am Sir
Very Respectfully
Your Obdt Servt
Solomon Sharp

To Commodore
P N Livingston
___ U S Naval Station
Norfolk, VA

[footnote ____]

* * *


Isaiah Hanscom's letter to Joseph Frost, November 18, 1864


Navy Yard, Norfolk, Va.
18th Nov. 1864

My Dear Sir:

I have promised myself to write you every day for weeks gone, but every day brought its duties and cares, taxing my powers and occupying the time. Your favor was gladly received - Sarah has been very sick for ten days past, but it is now more comfortable and we hope may continue so for some time yet although liable to pass away at any time - Her sufferings are so excruciating and painful to witness, but she bears them with a murmur and remarkable patience, believing it is alright and intended for her good - We have been anxiously looking for John and family, fearing that the last struggle might come, ere she could see them - We expect them next Tuesday and hope we shall not be again disappointed - The weather is delightful here, today being like summer - The work is on the increase, our Pay Roll for this month will amount to 65,000 dollars for labor - We have sent North for Machinists, Boiler Makers, Plumbers, Ship Carpenters, and other classes of mechanics, to help keep the work along - Since the 1st day of July, we have repaired and sent to sea 140 steamers and have about 20 at the Yard now repairing - I am busy from morn till night, and then do all I can to ease Sarah's pain - Avoline tends her through the day - We have a very fine house and very well furnished; everything around pleasant but Sarah's sick room - My official associates in the Yard are pleasant and agreeable, and although we change Com. Livingston for Com. Berrien on Monday, we anticipate an agreeable Comdt.

The war is still raging, but Gen. Butler seems to have started a new idea, which may be the right move in the right way - The celebrated Steamer "Florida" is at Old Point, and I am ordered to measure her and report to the Department which I intend to do tomorrow -

Sarah and Avolyne send love to you and all our family

Very truly yours,
I. Hanscom

Joseph Frost, Ensign
Eliot, Maine

* * *

Letter to Edward Cavently from Treasury Department, April 28, 1870.


April 28, 1870
Treasury Department
Fourth Auditor's Office


In reply to your letter of the 13th instant, I state that it appears from information received from the Navy Department in relation to your case, that the Sea Service credited to you under your present appointment was performed in the volunteer Navy during the late rebellion.

As a considerable period elapsed between the date of your discharge as an Acting Officer and subsequent appointment as a Boatswain, you cannot be considered as transferred to the regular Navy, within the meaning of the 3rd Section of the Act of March 2, 1867, and consequently the Sea Service performed in the volunteer Navy does not give you a legal claim to an increase of pay under your present appointment.

Very respectfully,
Your obt Svt.
S. J. W. TaborAuditor

Edward Cavently, U. S. N.
U. S. Navy Yard


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