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[PUNCTUATION AND SPELLING ARE COPIED FROM THE ORIGINALS. EDITORIAL COMMENTS ARE IN BOLD TYPE.]
Dear father, Sister, and friends. It is with pleasure that I improve the leasure furnished by a rainy day to Inform you of the reception of your kind letter the 16th which I was rejoised to receve. It found me well and waiting most impatiently for a letter from you. You cannot imagine how delightedly I read it now dont wait so long again. I will try to write as often as once a week and I hope you will do the same. I could not help laughing at the news you had received of two of our men being shot while out on pickit duty there has not been a man Shot there is not any danger in standing on picket duty while on this side of the river over on the other side they have some fun with the rebbles some times. I was sent out as pickit last sunday I had to take my blanket a canteen of water and one days provisions in my haversack its fun to be off in the woods with two or three jolly companions I like it. In the first sheet of my letter I was extoleing the fine weather yesterday there was a change in the prospect it commenced raining about dark and rained all night all of to day so far and some snow fell allso. but as I was saying about dark it commenced raining and before midnight we were drowned out yes fairly drown out the water came in under our tent wetting our bedding which caused us to get up quicker than ever we did for rool call. we at onc procured a lantern and spade and went to work and soon had the satisfaction of seeing the water retire from the tent into the ditch we had made if it had been the retreat of a body of rebbles it could not have given us more satisfaction. we then went into the tent and built up a good fire with out which we would have been very uncomfortable the next day today we put a brick floor in our tent which will protect us against any future incurtion of water enimies. Our tent is wedge shaped and about eight feet squire five of us ocupy one of them we have bought a little stove which with furniture cost us five dolars and which comes very handy to cook warm our tents &c the canvass of which our tents are made is thick enough to prevent the rain from penitrating by falling on it but it will come under of course if not properly protected by a ditch. I hope it will soon clear of for sunshiny weather is much more ageeable than sotormy in camp. I thought we had got here to late for any of the southern fruit but we are just in time for persimmons they are a rich lucous fruit about as large as a good sised green gage I wish you could have some they would suit you. I understood that some body had sent you [inserted above the line] meaning the people there [end of insertion] word that our reg't was dying off at the rate of ten a day. it is not so there has not one died since we came here that I know of you tell the people so. write all the perticulars for they are what I like. Yours with love dear friend.
[The following letter was probably actually written in January of 182, although it was filed with letters from December of 1862. The reference to New Years being past and the fact that it was written from Camp Warren are the basis for my assumption.]
Dear friends It is with great pleasure that I now seat myself for the purpose of writing to you and informing you of my excelent health and spirits and also of the recepts of your kind letter for which accept my thanks. It was with was with wonder and gratitude that I received your letter so soon after writing to you I was greatly amused to read the account in your letter of the reports which had reached you of a party of our men of which Studer was one being attacked at a bridge which they went to guard nothing of the kind has hapened none of us have had a chance to try our spunk withe the rebels yet but our Colonel has promised us that we shall have a chance before long to try our mettel. we have had the promice of some reconoissance duty if we do we shall probably have a sight of the enimy which we have not had as yet we are just as much out of the danger of the enimy here as at elmira but we shall have a chance before long. You seem to have formed a wrong idea of our manner of liveing we dont have beds we sleep on the ground on straw we each have two blankets and most of us have quilts from home. first on the straw we plac our india rubber blankets then on this this we put our quilts our blankets we spread over us since I wrote my last letter we have been moved into large round tents eighteen feet in diameter in this there are fifteen men we sleep in a half circle around the tent our feet to the centre we have a stove in our tent and every thing handy all the boys from our plac with the exception of Ira Crandall live in here we have potatoes part of the time. We expect our pay to the fifteenth of this month but cannot tell as yet. I do not know the fare from Andover here but I believe it about ten dolars but I dont know tell Willie to enquire at the depot. Lt Green is some sick at present not bad however all the rest of our boys are well Lester Eaton is over the river at present visiting the second Wisconsen and some other Regts over the Potomac. But would you not be pleased to see fifteen men In a tent onely eighteen feet in diameter I tell you we soon learn to accommodate our selves to all most aney thing now I supose you think we cannot live with any comfort but we do live wit comfort to. The money you sent me I bought an India rubber blancet I have not bought a pistol yet I bought wages with the rest when pay day comes I have my my pay when pay day comes. I hope It will not be much longer before we shall make an advance on the Potomac withe as large an army as we have at present we might make an advance on I hope It will not be so much longer so. We have had a comsiderable cold weather since mew year It has snowed about an inch but It has been warm enough in our tents for any body Last week I was corporal of the pickets of this regt we had a peace of woods to guard which was on a hill comanding a fine view of the city of Washington at night I had just taken on the men ten in number of which I had command and I had just given them there places to guard when I saw a strong light toward the city I at once got in a place where I could see the fire for such it was oh how bright. I was it was the govenment stables on fire there were some fifteen hundred horses in them of which one hundred fifty were burned to deth it was dreadful all of the horses were turned out that they could It was bad enough I tell you. I supose you read of it in the papers. We got that butter and a more thankful set of fellows than we were you seldon see it is enough to make a felow home sick some of the boys here are wishing themselves home with there mothers but I have not seen the time yet when I wished my self out of this. I came here with the expectation of of much worse fare than we had here and so I was pleasently disappointed our bread is baked for us and many other things which I did not expect.
Father I shall be glad to go up West with you when I get through with this war but it will be a good while first and I hope by that time I shall get to be a man and able to do some work but I am afraid that I shall be very lazy at first. Last night we agreed to have reading in the Bible and prayer every night last night we did so and I dont think we shall drop it we have the praise of being the most quiet and orderly tent in the conmpany still we have plenty of fun but have it in a quiet way. We have had news to day from the colonel that we shall go down the Potomac to Mathias point where the rebbles are blockadeing the Potomac they are collecting in great numbers it will take a large forc of ours to disloge them so it wont be long before we have a chance to to try our mettel. I have no doubt you think because we sleep on the ground we sleep uncomfortable but I tell you I never slept better in my life or with less dreams
But my dear friends I can write no more at present give my love to all
A T La Forge
Pleas excuse my many mistakes you know that we dont have a table to write on
I am happy to say that I received your kind letter of Jan 18. which I Should have answered before but I expected another letter from you I sent one when I sent the money. I understand the money arived at Andover safe wheather the letter did or not. Your letter found me well but deep in the mud. however the going is better now. night before last I was on guard and it snowed nearly all night the snow fell to the depth of several inches (about three) still there is no sleighing three inches of snow is not apt to make sleighing where the mud is a foot deep. You would probably never have heard from me again if we had not moved our camp the mud was getting so deep there that we must have inevatably stuck fast before long we have moved about one hundred rods we are camped on a side hill where it is sandy dry and nice in full view of the city of Washington. I like our present camp ground first rate I was very sorry to hear that mother was hurt I hope she is well by this time how I should like to see her I can imagine how she sits by the stove enjoying her pipe I can imagine what you are all at but none of you can guess anything about what I am at because you never saw any thing of the kind. You must never think we are suffering with cold because we never do our tents are full as warm as board shanties then it is never very cold here the coldest is onely 20°. below zero and that onely once while some times it seems allmost like summer does there and another thing which ads to our comfort is there is but thirteen of us in a tent now and when we moved we managed to cabbage enough fence boards to make a floor to our tent. Then agan we sold our little stoves and bought a larger one with an oven the the advantage can readily be seen by any woman. The water is mostly bad I know of but one good spring any where about. George Green has been sick and in the hospital for some time but is well and out around at present. one of the hospitals on this hill is the large Columbian Colage another is the house the residence of old Comadore C. Porter of whom we read in the war of 1812.14. the comadores son is now an officer in the rebble army. The house was once a beautiful residence and is splendidly situated just back of our camp the house is badly used and is going to decay as fast as the material of which it is built (brick) will alow it to. Now here is some thing which will be interesting for father. the grave of old Lorenzo Dow is within a half mile of here. The tombstone is common brown stone it is raised on pillars above the grave two feet and with this inscription on it
Who was born in coventry Conn.
Oct. 18th 17.77
Died Feb 2nd 18.34 aged .56. Years.
And also a couple of his quotation of which I am sorry I failed to coppy.
Feb. 6th I had to leave my unfinished letter yesterday on account of an order which I received to go out targt shooting our company made first rate shots the target was about fourty five rods off. We have changed our guns since I wrote last we now have the Austrian riffle the gun is not as handsome as the enfield which we had before but it is more serviceable I think we made a good trade. Last week I went down to the city and visited the patent office It is a large marble building filled with all the machinery in the United states and there also is the coat pants sword money safe and some of the tea set of Genl. George Washington and many other rellicks of great value to the people of the nation. My love to all Father Mother Brothers and Sisters from your loveing friend.
A T La Forge
To Mr Joseph Potter
Direct to Co. C. 85th Regt NYSV. Camp Warren, D.C.
It is with pleasure that I seat myslf in great haste to write you a few lines to inform you of the reception of your kind letter for which receive my thanks. You will doubtless see the haste in which I write by the writing To night our company fell in as useual for dress parad when the Capt. came down and told us that our company need not go on dress parade for the reason that companys A B C and H were to be sent across the Potomac to night about 12 miles from here they are expecting to have a battle over there very soon and by our earnest solisitation we were premitted to go over. We are not going to stay over there we take four days rations and probably shall not have to stop over there longer than four days whether we shall have a fight or not we cannot tell. [inserted> we do not take our tents with us. [end of insertion] After I wrote that the order not to take our tent was countermanded and we took them. We shall not have any to sleep in we shall have to bunk down on the ground while we are gone. But I must bid you good bye for the present my love to father and all the f [torn corner] Your brother, A T LaForge
[letter continued on]
It is with mortifycation that I finish this letter. We have not realised the fond antiscipations which we had on starting the night of Feb 27. we were then in fon hope that we should be in an engagement before we got back again when we started at last with this expectation. We did not get started untill after dark that night we were accompanyed by the band for a short distance they finaly turned and we cheered them and cept on our journey. we had not gone more tha 1/4 of a mile before we had to halt and send back for a couple of lanterns the roads are so muddy we marched through Georgetown and about 2-1/2 miles beyond when we halted and the Magor who commanded went to the head quarters of the Brigade with which we were to go for orders he was gone about an hour and we built fires by the road and made ourselves as comfortable as posible. When he returned he said that we were to return to our old camp that the order for an advance had been countermanded that he had telegraphed back to head quarters for instructions and he should have to go back to camp Warren. he then gave the order of about face and forward march and back we marched through the mud to our old camp where we arived about two oclock AM. A tired set of men we had onely marched about ten miles but owing to the state of the roads it was worse than a twenty miles march. as soon as the waggons came we picked our tents not being over perticular bunked down and was soon fast asleep We did not get up untill the sun was an hour high just as Orvill Barney and me who slept togather got up Leander Liveson Lester Eaton and Albert Heseltine came in they had slept in a covered baggage waggon about a mile back all night we had a good laugh our adventure and then went to work and piched our tents in propper shape layed our floor again and got things aranged as we had them before. and we were inspected for pay to day but the prospect is that we shall not get our pay untill the first of April if we do not get it untill then I shall be out of money and therefore I wish you would send me one dolar.
Joseph I wish you would use that money that I sent you or if you do not want to use it yourself put it out untill the first Sept first / 62. so that it may be increasing slowly
You were right in suposin that I was wishing that the war was over and I was home that is perfectly natural but I never have wished that I was home unless this war was over. You wrote Jane [Mary Jane Potter, Susan's sister-in-law] was sick with the sore throat I am glad she does not have the treatment which we do in such a case we have our throat is burned out with an accid. You were safe in guessing that I do not gain in flesh as fast as I did at Elmira if I had gained all the time as fast as I did when I first went there I should now be the heavyest man in the army. The other day there was such a heavy wind that a steeple 200 ft high was blown down. heavy metalic roofs were blown off chimniys were blown of and lots of damage done in the city. this is a speciman of our North West wind. I believe I have nothing more to write at present onely my love to father and all the rest of my friends.
Yours Truly A. T. La Forge
[letter on same paper]
Dear Sister & Friends
It is with pleasure that I once more seat myself for the purpose of again improveing this opertunaty of writing to you. I received your kind letter of Feb 22 for which receive my thanks. Your letter found me well and glad to hear from you the weather has been quite pleasant here for some time. an old contraband told me that this kind of weather will last untill the last of march it will rain every two or three days and then clear up with a cold North West wind which will last about a day then it will be pleasant a day or tow then rain again and so on. However the mud is drying up and a change is much better than to have it rain all the time to day we have had the heavyest fall of snow that we have ha hear this winter for a short time the snow fell about two inches deep in tow hours still it is very warm just snow enough to make good snow balling and i tell you the boys have improved the opertunaty They snowballed one other untill they got tired of that and then they picked on the commissioned officers when ever one made his apearance the Col and nearly all the Capts and Lieuts had there share. The day before yesterday I received a letter telling me that Sam Van Gordon and two of his brothers were in the 56. Regt. N.Y.S.V. now I must tell you they were old acquaintances of mine therefore you must know that the reception of this news gave me a considerable pleasure for the 56th is encamped not more than an hundred rods from our camp. As it was sunday to day and I had plenty of extra time I acordingly went over to the 56th found my old friends and in course of conversation asked if any of the New Burgh boys was in the Regt. they told me yes. I asked them if they knew of a fellow by the name of Richard Swort [Richard Swart was his stepbrother, the son of his father's second wife] they told me yes he was in the company I soon found him out and I tell you we had a good time talking over old times he hardly knew me he is to return the visit this week some time the Col of that Regt is Van Wyk congressman from N.Y. he resigned his position in congress to take command the Regt. [unsigned -- perhaps a page is missing]
It is with much pleasure that I now seat myself to answer your kind letter of the 21st which came to hand yesterday, just as our co. had fell into line to go out on picket. You can judge that the two miles we had to go before we got to our picket lines did not seem short for I was so impatient to read your letter. You cannot imagine what a bright spot in my life it is to receive a letter from home. all others are but tame in comparison. I waited untill I arived at my post before I opened it then expecting to divide my attention between the rebbels and your letter, but I found it imposible, not untill I had read and reread the letter did the rebs' have a thought.
Our picket line runs on one side of a field about forty rods wide and the rebel lines are on the other side, almost in speaking distance of each other. however we are in no danger of being shot by the other, for there is an order strictly forbidding picket shooting. so you see we stand and look in each others face without without the least show of animosity, when we are onely waiting for an opertunaty of meeting each other with the worst passions of which human nature are capable.
This morning we gave them an opertunaty to have a shot at us without breaking the rule of picket shooting. There was som rebel cattle on neutral ground, i.e. the strip of land betwen the picket lines, which we thought we could drive in, acordingily some of us went out around the cattel and the rest of us were to head them of and drive them through the gap into our lines. This program we thought good, but it did not met the aprobation of our friends across the field. no sooner had we started for the cattel than they brought a gun from their fort to bear upon us and sent a shot at us which flew high over our heads so we kept on after the cattel. they fired two mor shots at us from the cannon. by this time we had got down near their picket lines and they began to fire at us which made it highly improper for us to go any farther so we thought it best to retreat while we could do so in good order. None of us were hurt.
We had a very cold wel disagreable time on duty. I often thought of the warm comfortable place at home that I have often filled. it was not with regret that I thought of the joys of home, the memory of them but makes dearer to me the free institutions of my country.
We had a smack of actual service the 27th our reg't. was called upon to assist the Maine 7th in makeing a reconnoissance in force. We were marched out to our picket line and placed in ambush, to cover the retreat of the 7th in case they were forced to retreat. Wen we were loading our Col. said now boys if you are called upon to fire, I don't want a bullet to fly over an enemys head now mind. We had to remain in our position an hour. You would have been amused to see our ocupation, expecting an atack every moment, some of them were playing pin, some were playing "mumble de peg", others telling stories makeing ludicrous remarks about our position and so on.
The seventh were succesful, they drove back the enimys pickets and penitrated to within a hundred and ten yards of their batery and then retreated without loosing a man. when this news came to our regt. there was more down cast, disapointed looking faces than there was before when we were expecting to be engaged in a bloody strife in a few moments. however it could not be heped so we were marched back to camp without seeing an enimy.
I wish I could write you some news about the proceedings of the army, but I cannot because I have no means of knowing any of the movements except those made by our own brigade. I have not had a paper in two weeks dont have any thing to read, no news reaches us that we can depend on, there is no papers brought up here to sell, so you can judge of the disagreably ignorant state in regard to the news, we are in. I wish you would be so kind as to send me a paper of some kind ocasionaly. a tribune an Allegany paper an IllusŪātrated or literary paper, in fact any thing in the shape of a news paper.
I thank you for your kind offer to send me more money if I wanted it, but I shall not avail myself of it. I have a number of postag stamps and some twenty cents in money I guess. I shall do very well till pay day as there is no way to spend money here and pay day will come before long weather we get any pay or not.
Lester Eaton is at Newport News sick of the camp disentary, dangerously sick, the hospital nurs who was up here the other day said he did not think he could live I have not seen him since we left there and what is wors none of us can get a pass to go down and see him. do not tell his people of this I beg of you.
Father, I am glad you did not inlist. I fearr the old men are those who are sick most, while us young bucks are as tugh and harty as grizzly bears.
Susean I dont want you to dream about me so much for you always dream bad dreams and they make you unhappy. I know, and I do not like to have you worying about me when I was never in better health in my life.
Dear sister you wanted to know if we kept up the practice of reading in the bible every night I can answer onely for myself I do nearly every nigh, we no longer have family prayer for our faily is scatered but I hope that we all ingage in silent prayer, which the lord can hear just as well. I hope that I may be prepared to die so that if I am to die on the battelfield that it may not be without hope of meeting you all in heaven.
With this as my desire,
I remain yours as ever A. T. La Forge
[written around the edges of several pages of the previous letter]
We have advanced nearer the enimes lines, since I wrote to you before. Were now about half way betwen the York and James rivers four miles from Yorktown We are daily expecting a battle at Yorktown when the guns open on that plac I suppose there will be an advance all a long the line bettwen the rivers the it seems that the rebs will fight here if any wher for they are fighting for there capitel this may be said to be the door to Richmond. Besides all this they have also the advantage in position. nature has fortified the place for them. If you will look in my atlass at the map of Virginia you will find our position near the lower right hand part of the state you will see Yorktown Warwic C H we were camped at Warwic courhouse Plees turn to Page 2 now we have moved up nearer Yorktown and near Warwic creek this creek is mostly in the hands of the rebels in some places their pickets are on one side and ours are on the other. Imagine a line of fortifycations extending from Yorktown to the mouth of the creek and you can tell some thing of what we have to contend with. Sister I hate to ask you to do such a thing but I must I wish you would send me a row or two of pins in a newspaper I would not ask you to if I could buy them but I cannot and I know it will give you pleasure, so goodby ATLF.
It is with much pleasure that I seat myself to write to you. Since my last letter I have had some experience in fighting and I can say that it is not funny I will tell you perticulars. April the 29th our Div was called out to make a reconnoisance in force that is an examination of the enimies lines and fortifycations. our Regt was in the advance we were formed in line of battle and advanced beyond our pickets and then began to look out for the rebs but never a rebbel did we see untill all at once we herd a volly of rifles and the balls went whizzing by our heads cutting of the twigs and thugging into them in such a manner as to one very uncomfortable we kept advansing toward the enimy without a waver when sudenly we were brought to a standstill by coming upon a slough which it would be very improper for us to cross. the rebs still continued to fire at us so our Col. gave us the order to conseal ourselves behind trees and return the enimys fire whenever we could see them The trees were so thick that we could not see them and judgeing from the poor shots they made after the first volly they could not see us very plain.
I looked in vain for a rebbel but could not see one I think if I had I could have taken as good aim at one as I could at a target for though excited my aim was as steady as ever. After remaining here half an hour our schermishers were deployed to protect our retreat and we came back to camp haveing no boddy hert in our regt. one in the 56th NYV the regt Richard belongs in was mortaly wounded. I have sorroful news to tell you Lester Eaton is dead he died in the hospital at Newport the 26th of April his dissease was fever and disentary. There has three letters came for him from his folks since he died. Oh; how his Father and mother and brothers and sister must feel but I will say no more on this painful subject. Leander is quite sick and I have been a little you can see by this writing that I am somewhat narvus. We have just received two of the four months pay due us I send you twenty three one half dolars. Joseph does not that note against Nelson Crandall become due this spring. The new ten cent peice inclosed is for little mattie pleas give it to her I believe I have nothing more to write at present onely pleas burn this after you have read it if you can do that. And oblig. A T La Forge
It is with pleasure that I seat myself to inform you of my whereabouts. at which you will doubtless be suprised I am shure that I am.
When the 85th moved toward Williamsburg when the rebs fell back I could not go with them I was just coming down with the Virginia fever I also had the disintary both of these ailments took hold of me prety strongly after the regt moved. I grew light rapidly under there close attention in the course of three weeks I lost twenty pounds I was taken to the hospital at Yorktown and from there was brought North on the Vanderbilt were were first taken to Washington but the hospitals there were all full so we were brought around here in the boat.
As soon as we were moored to the wharf here the good people begun to bring on board and give to us all kinds of delicasies such as we had not tasted since leaveing home arangements were soon made and a hundred and eighty of us were taken to the Adams house hospital where we receive the best of treatment.
We arived here the 17th visitors are coming in every day bringing all sorts of nice things for us.
I am quite well now intirely well of my fever but quite weak.
My love to all
From your son and Brother A T La Forge
It is with much pleasure that I seat myself for the purpose of agin communicating with you by the pen. I received your kind letter of April 31st which gave me much pleasure for I had been waiting what seemed a long time for a letter from you yours did not arive untill we had changed from the Adams House to the McKims Mansion hospital where you must now direct your letters.
I have intirely recovered from my sickness and am detailed on duty here in the hospital as orderly for the Suregeon in charge, so my cake is dough for going back to the Reg't for which I am very sorry.
Our Reg't has been in a severe battle lately George Green and I believe Orvill Barney have been wounded and sent North to N. Y. Sity. I suppose they have written home by this time if they have I wish you in your next letter would let me know the extent of their misfortune I am anxious to hear also tell me if any the rest of our boys are wounded or killed.
Crandal is a prisoner in the hands of the rebs, our Major dangerously wounded and our Lieut, Col, slightly wounded and a good many of the men killed so they must have fought well.
Strawberries are ripe and have been for a weak or two. the ladies bring them in nearly every day they are exceedingly to us. and I am sure I shall never forget them. Still I should much prefer the nurseing of my sister's but I cant expect to have as good nurses as as you are.
We have had pleasent weather most of the time we have been have been here but for several days in succession we have had rain nearly all of the time however it was needed for the ground was very dry.
There are a number of the boys from our regt at this hospital. I like this place much better than the Adams house for then we were on one of the principal streets of the and the rattle of the carts and waggons over the pavements was almost incesent night and day I found it very dificult to sleep at all. While here we are out of the town and away from noise with a pleasent rural prospect and much more healthy. My business is very pleasent but rathe confineing I have to be here from seven in the morning untill six at night every day yet I have plenty of time to read and study while I am here
There are two hundred and seventy three patients in this hospital it is situated on an eminence overlooking the most of town there are three buildings two story barracks forming three sides of a square and the McKims Mansion wher the Dr's and lady nurses live then the laundry cooking house and officers dineing room where the Doctors Stewards Ward masters Clerk and myself eat. and we live well I tell you. I can write no at present. Oh yes I can to, I wish you would send me a five dolor bill if you can raise it I have been sick and spent all my money and I want a pair of boots. You did not write weather you received that twenty three dolars fifty cts which I sent you we onely got two months pay and I sent yo the above amount of that. So fare well at present.
God bless you all Your Brother A. T. La Forge
It is with much pleasure that I embrace this oppertunaty of answering your kind letter of Aug 27. Which I have the pleasur of saying found me in good health for which I am very thankfull.
Baltimore is very much excited now owing to the rcent successes of the rebels. the rich rebels who but a week since were wishing for Jackson now that there is a prosspect of his coming, are trembling for for fear of the distruction of there property by the union soldiers for it is a prety sure thing if the rebels take the city our troops will shell it from the forts which command it and which can be held aganst any force the the rebs, can bring to bear on them
It is very plain to be seen that the distruction of there property would give them more pain than the ocupation of the city by the rebs would give them pleasur.
But the poorer classes of rebs are jubilent for they have nothing to loose and everything to gain when ever they can get a soldier out in some unfrequented place they are sure to pitch into him and almost always sure to get floged and put into the station house for there pains. manny are the fistŪti cuff fights we have to engage in to uphold the honor of the Union.
You would be suprised, and justly to, at the ignorance we are in regards the number and purporses of the rebels in Maryland, that they are commanded by able generals is very evident but what there intensions are weather to march on Pensylvania or Baltamore or Washington, or to await attact, is more than we are able to conjecture, with any feeling of sfety
Father have you and Susan given up going East this fall If you go give my best respects to friends at the dear old place. tell little Josiah he must inlist when hes old enough but not before, tell uncle Josiah [Fuller] I wish I was down there to eat grapes with him. Say to aunt Sophy that I am coming down to see her and the rest of them after a while. of course that means after the war
I am glad the crops are good up there, in my opinion the crops will be better than the prices. I remember the last work I helped Joseph do was to turn over some beans which were damp, now if you had some more to turn over and I could be up there and spend one night with you, I should be content to turnover beans all next day to pay for it, and think it a cheap bargain at that, for I judge I should get a pumpkin pie by the operation, and per haps one or two kisses from very dear friends, what do you think.
How very truly can I say,
Where e'er on earth I am doomed to roam,
My heart is still with friends at home.
Oh; I forgot to say I have reserved a very small share fo a very fine fresh little girl here, very handsome and of strong union proclivities, she is rather shy and bashfull but she likes me prety well but wonnt let me kiss her unless I steal it.
Now dont go to to forming any rash ideas but give my love to all just the same a if I had not told you what I have and remember me as yours affectionaly A.T. La Forge, Orderly.
To Mr Joseph Potter, Andover, Allegany. Co. NY.
Your kind letter of the 13th has been received I was very glad to hear from you so good a report of your selves.
Now Jane you see that much of my letter is addressed to you and Susean both now as Suse is gone, the rest is to you entirely, provideing you will give a few mesages to the rest.
The danger to Baltimore has passed, we have no farther apprehension of the rebels takeing the city Mac, has drven them from "My Maryland" and I hope he will follow up his success and drive them down to there capital and take that and thus virtualy ending the war before the rainy season comences. how I wish he could.
Joseph how is your crops his year do they turn out well as you expect I wish you would let me know what grain, cattel, butter, chees and such like are selling for there, clothes are very high here of course they are the same there.
how do you like sleeping alone Joseph you are a single man again how do you like it. We have confounded work getting our pay. I wish you would send me five dolars as soon as you can I have lent all the money of last pay day which I have not used, and can't get it till we are paid, and I want some money before that.
Well mother, how do you enjoy life now I hope you are well for without health no body can enjoy life is not that so, doesent it do your hart good to see so many patriotic yong men coming to there countrys call, as there has, from the country about there I should not think any would have to be drafted from Andover or Independence do you think there will be any.
[Three-inch section of the letter has been cut out.]
I am expecting a letter from Susean and father. I have received one O L Barney,
My love to all, Yours truly Abiel T La Forge, Orderly McKims
Co. C 85 NY Vols, Sick Div McKims
Joseph Potter, Independence
Your kind letter of Sept 27 was received last night and I haste to reply
I was quite suprised to hear from you so quick. I even doubted your going
East at all but your letter sets me at rest on the subject.
was is there
any place you have been yet that you recognised I am sure I did not remember
any of the old places around there when I went back but you were older than
I and probably remember more than I did
I am sorry Uncle William [LaForge?] is in is in such a bad condition. how I wish I had a weeks furlough to come up there go around with you and Father
You write that you do not know where father is I supose he has turned up since Ile warrent you father enjoys himself hugely he will try to keep you down there all winter see if he dont he knows the country so well about there that he will not see half he wants in a good while.
You have been up on Solomans Baarrack [?] before this time wha a beautiful view there is from there New Burgh Poughkeepsie Mateawan New Windsor and all those places we used to know so well, and there is little Pancake and Four corners where used to live and go to school. How dear the assosiations of childhood seem when we contemplate them in after life. Do not think by my writing that I begin to feel like an old man nothing of that I asure you but to think of the old places sometimes makes me feel lonely.
Uncle Josih is as hale and harty as ever I suppose, still drawing two loads of water a day just as he used to when I was there. God bless him he has a kind heart. give him my best love,
I judge by what you write age begins to tell on aunt Sophy, how kind she used to be to me I know I used to think her love was more like a mothers than an aunts. therefore give her for me the love of a son.
Ask cousin Sal how she likes married life by this time, I believe she had a baby when I was there how does the little thing do now, I forget weather I was a girl or boy.
Give my love to all our kind friends both great and small, I wish I could be there to express it myself. but that I am unable to do so I must be contented with the pens dumb eloquence.
Has cousin John Gordon (I believe this is the name of Seseans husband) gone out West as he expected to when I was down there. he had a promice of a position in a copper mine out near lake Superior.
Tell little Jo I shall write to him soon he is a good writer for a boy of his age I tell you.
Tell Father if he visits his old friend in New Burgh to give my best respects to them.
From your loveing Brother Abiel T La Forge Orderly.
Your kind letter of Oct. 3rd I just this hour received and inclosed found the $5.00 you was so kind as to send me. the letter was miscarried it went first to Wash. then to Newport News, and then to Suffolk where our regt now is. my first lieut kindly opened it and seeing it was of importance to me forwarded it.
We were paid some time ago thirty dolars of my pay I sent to my old friend John Clemence to be invested for me he wrote he would invest it in the best manner possible at this time.
Cousin Geo Hall was over to see me week before last. he knew me as soon as he saw me but I did not have as good a memory. I knew I had seen before but where I could not tell. We had a good visit he took dinner with me and then returned I promised to repay the visit and was going over last sunday but I heard the regt had left so I did not go.
Well Susey dear I am about to return to my regt. I asked Dr. Quick yesterday if he would not send me back and he said he would I am ashamed to stay here any longer an enlisted soldier and doing nothing never seeing an enimy unless a prisoner. I shall probably go back betwen this and the 20th I hop you will write soon and send it here as before. if I am not here they will know where to send it.
I did not know how well I was liked untill I told them I was going back, every body now seem trying to make me believe that I am a capitol fellow and all that. a yong clerk that I came near fighting a duel with when I first came here, swears if he could get his pay he would desert from his regt and go with me to mine if he could get his pay. Of course you will think by my writeing this I am very vain and I guess you will be more than half right.
Give my love to all. and tell me next time if you enjoyed your visit as well as you expected befor you went.
Your loveing brother A T La Forge
Why I do not get a letter from you I do not know. have you received none from me since I have been here. I wrote you a letter the first week I was here, but the pleasure of an answer from my dear sister I have not had. I believe you must have written to me and the letter has sent astray.
"Wall", I am not back to to the 85th yet and I cannot tell when I shall be. no men have been sent to their reg'ts from here for some time. the camp is being gradualy being broken up, and moved to a place about three miles above here, wher it will be more sheltered from the wind and therefore warmer. the position of this camp is very beautiful for sumner, but far to bleak for winter.
We hav already had some very cold weather, colder than it was any time last winter the Potomac was nearer frozen over, at two different times than it was at any time last winter still we are haveing very agreable weather most of the time.
I am now acting as sergent of the squad to which I belong. I have to make out the requisitions for rations give them passes, and am held responsible for there good order and so on. when I first came here we had to bring all the wood we had over towo 1/2 miles, but now we have all the wood we want to burn isued to us, which is a great deel more pleasent, I can go into town at any time for I have a general pass from Col Belknap who comands this post.
Last night I was sitting by the fire and wishing that I was either with my rigt or up at Joseys and I do believe if I Could have my "druther" I would be with you in Indipendence till after New Year, which is now so close at hand and then back to the army again. in that letter you sent me while at McKims father wrote he was going out West again, has he gone yet? if he has dont you suppose he will be back again next spring? if he would settle down some place he might get along quite well. if he is still there give him my love. and mother how does she stand the cold weather this winter.
It is getting dark so I must close wishing you all a Mery Christmass and a happy New Year
Your loveing brother Abiel T La Forge
Act Sergt in charge of squad
[written along edge]
I have not the mony to put postage on this letter.
To Mrs Joseph Potter Independence N. Y.
Address Post Hospital Near Alexandria, Va. Co. C. 85th Regt.NYSV
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