Letters from Pvt. William Davies

December 24, 1862 to July 8, 1863

These six letters were written by Pvt. William Davies, a thirty-five-year-old carriage maker from Oswego, N.Y., to his wife, Mary Driscoll. The last two were written on June 17 and on July 8, 1863--only weeks before he was killed during General Potter's raid on Tarboro, on July 20, 1863. Both of these final letters were quoted (in part) by David A. Norris in his article about the 12th. Additional family information could once be found at http://members.tripod.com/Kissbye/stories.htm, a web site maintained by a great-great-great-grandson of William Davies, but the link seems (in 2002) to be no longer working. For the text of these letters I am indebted to Larry Crane, a great-great-grandson of Davies. I believe that Mr. Crane's source for his transcriptions was The Oswego [NY] Historical Society.

Photographs of William Davies and his wife appear on this site at Davies-photo.html.

Letter of December 24, 1862

[Page 1]

Camp Washington Dec 24/62

My Dear Mary I recievd yors
of the Eighteenth and were glad to hear
that the Childern were well & going to Sunday
Scool & were Sorry to hear that you had a
Sore throat & hope that when you Recieve
this that you will be well i was Sorry to hear
That Mr & Mrs worden met with So Series
Affliction lossing their too Childern but
we all haift to put up with the will of
God & hope for the Best & were I glad to hear
that Tommas & family were well Marry you
Spoke of my Coming home i dont know when
I Can Come fore it is hard to Get a pass to
go to mew york now there is five or Six
hundred here now & there is a great many
hard Cases here among us with [which] Makes it
Bad for us we have moved our Camp to
the first Landing the mane [name] of the Camp
is Camp Washington it is in Site of Newyork
but it is hard to get thare the reasons that
i did not answer yore Letter Sooner is that
we was talking of moveing & i thaut that
i would wait So that i Could informe you
how to Direct yore Letters & there was talk
of our going to newyork on provest Dutty
thare was thwenty too of us went to the City
for that purpes but were Orderd Back they
Seid that thay was not Readey for us yet
& i dont know as thay will Send us thare
But hope thay will for anny thing for a
Chang is Better than Being Coopt up in Camp
here Last Saturday & Saturday night i was
On guard & it was Colder hear than in Oswego
i thaut that the wind would Cut right thru
me but had to Stand it

[Page 2]

thay are going Orgnise the Reigment the
first of Janaury & they Say that they will
pay us Some Money then witch i Hope that
they will So that i Can Send you Some Mary
Let me know how you Stand it for Money &
how you get along with taking Care of the Shop
in my absence and how you and the Childern
Spent Crismas mary you Must not worry a
bout me for i will take Care of my Self &
never forgetyou or my family wile absent
from you and them & trust in God that he
will Let me Return to you and them Safe
Once more & Spare them all to me i will Come
& See you & them the first Chance that i
Can get if you have any troubbie Let me know
for i would Rather you would than keep
it from me i was in hopes that our army
would be Successful in varginny & that the
war would Come to a Close but we have not
met with Sucess to our arms & the Loard
knowes when it will End i dont but we
must keep up our Courage for you know that
the Old Saying that it Looks the darkes
Before Day So Cheer up Mary and EnJoy
yor Self as well as you Can & i will try and
do the Same you wrote that you would
mail too papers to me the next Day after
you Sent the Letter i have recievd one paper
the weekly that is all the paper that
i Recievd Since I have Ben from home i was
glad to get the paper when i Looked at
i thagt how you EnJoy Reading yor Storeys
in them Mary when you Can Send the papers
do So i was verry Lonesome when i thatit [thought?] how
My Family & Thomas used to EnJoy Crismas together

[Page 3]

But i Conted [content?] my Self with the thaut that
we Should EnJoy the Same a gain tell me wat
you had Crismas Mary tell Mr & Mrs Talbott
& porter that i Send my Best Respects to
them & hope to See them all again Soon
& all the Rest of the friends tell Mother that
i Send my Love to her & hope that She is well
& that is the Best i Can Do now i Send Love
Brothers & Sisters & would Like to hear from
them tell them that Aunt Lis & Mary are
getting along very well George & Family are
well So is aunt Bales & Family Mr Bales
has gone to the South aunt Seid that you
promist to write to her you had Better write
her a Letter for She thinks a good Deal of
you & inquires a bout you every time that
i go thare She uses me well when i Call
On her Mary tell Adeline that She must
write me a Letter & and you must get a
pencil so that Jane & Joe Can print me one
tell Willy to tell me wether he got his Boots
yet if not wen unkel Sam gives me Some
Money i will Send Some to Bye him Some So
that he Can kick the Bad Boys when they
Call him a pup Children you must be good
to yor Mother and not worry her for She
will do all She Can for you until i Come
Back to take the troubbie off her hands
& Remember me for when i am on gaurd at
night when it is Cold & Dark i think of
you & with all the nois and Excitement of
the Baracks when i Lie Down to Sleep
i think of my Little Family & trust that God
will Spaz'e [spare?] Both them and me to their
Mother Mary before we go South i will Come & see you

[Page 4]

if possible we may Stay here all winter
& we may not we Cant tell wen we are
Orgnized how Soon we will be Orderd a way
but if i Cant Come and See you a gain before
we go i will Let you as Soon as, i Can i heard
that the Boys that are South are all Right
Mary wright me all the news & write as often
as you Can Dont wait for a Letter from
Me but write often for you dont know how
glad it makes me feel when i get a Letter
from home tell me how your figs get a long
and wether you had them for Crsimas or not
i Should Like to have Ben there to help Eat
them with you you had better blieve I am
going to keep up Courage and go through
all Right tell Mr Talbott & Tommas to
write to me & I will answer it Mary you
Sent me four Stamps in yor Letter i put
one on this Letter & too more i Sold to go
over to New york it Cost Six Cent to go
to Newyork from our Camp i was verry thanful
for them i think this Letter is as Long as
i Can aford now i will Send the Rest of
the news in my next So no more from
yor Afectiate husband Wm Davies to his
Dear wife Mary Davies forever yorn

wm Davies

So Mary when you Direct yor Letter
Direct it to Camp Washington Statialand [Staten Island]
State of Newyork in care Company A third ira Haris Cavely
Care of Capt Gasper

Letter of [unknown month] 14, 1863

[Page 1]

Camp Washington

Statialand [Staten Island] Ny 14/63
[month not determined]

My Dear Wife   i Recieved yor kind Letter
Of (13) and were pleased to hear that you
and My Dear Little Childern were all well
And hope that they and yor Self will have
That Blesing until i Return home through
The Kindness of God and that he will
Proteck you all wile i am not at home
with you and i trust in him to Do it
For he has the power   my Dear Wife i am
On Duty now on the Briton [Brighton] ferry as Guard
It is about one mile from Camp   i halft
To Leave Camp in the morning at halft
Past five to Be there for the frest [first] Boat
And Stay uttil half past Six at night
And then walk to Camp   So you See that
I am kepp prety Busy   i got yor Lettr
When i Come to Camp to night and Shant
Have time to wright you a verry Long one
It Keeeps me Bussy But I am Bettr pleased
Than to Be Keep in Camp   it Seems more
Like Libberty then in Camp

[Page 2]

And i Can go to the Cook house
And get all i want to eat   So you See
That is good   the men that was there Deserted
The ferry is Right opsite Jersey Shore it
Is a bout a half mile a Crost   Sunday
A Deserter took a Boat and went
A Crost   Just as he got a Shore i
Saw him and i left the other Guard
On the ferry and got a Boat and
went a Crost after him   i folered him
A bout too miles   when i Came up to
Him he Saw me and Started a Crost
The fields for the woods and i Started
After him   when i got in about ten
Rods of him i holerd to him to halt
of or i would Shoot   he looked a Round
And Saw the Rvelver pointed at him
And he Stoped and Seid a That
He was Duch   i Braught him to Camp
A gain but i Dont know whether i
Would Ceach [catch?] any more or not   it
Is verry pleasent weather here   they
Are making Gardens here now   i have
Not heard from Newyork Since i wrote

[Page 3]

My dear wife   if we get pay Ever and
I Can Come and See you i Shall Do
It without fail but i Cant tell when
that will Be   when the Cornel [Colonel] Asked
Magor [Major] if i was a Reliable man and he told
Yes   So he gave a pass to go out at all
Times   there is a bout one Our and a half
Between the Boats so we Can walk a
Round the vilage   So we have a good
Time and Sleep Every night   i am verry
Well although i have a Could [cold?] yet and
am Xxxx have got a Rash on me that
Bother me some i am going to get Some
Thing to Cleanse my Blodd   i think the
Caus of Eating So Muth Salt Junk
Lately or the Coffee that we Drink that
Makes the rash a good Many of the
Men Complain of the same and they
Say it is the Coffee   tell my little
Willy that i wont tell on him any
More if he wont Be Mad at his pa
And if he will Be a good Boy i will
Bring him a present when i Come home
And my Little Joe tell her pa hopes to

[Page 4]

come home So he Can have a Shop and
Make wagons So he can Bye her and
Ma and all the girls Some new Dreses
And not halft [have to?] Peddle peanuts   i Send
my Love to all the Childern and Mary
You must kiss them all for Me and
Charge to Old Acount   if Blather
Sohutt is Mad at pa kiss him until
He is pleased and i Send a Kiss to
You on the wings of Love   you may
Think this is Soft talk But it is true

So good Bye my Dear wife until i
Write you again forever yors

William Davies

To My Dear wife   Daly got in a
Quarel with a Spaniard the Other
Day and the Spaniard Stabd him
In the head and Side   they took him
To the hospittle and he Died this
Morning   i Bleive he had Benn Drinking
I ask our Lutenent if they would Send
Him home and he Seid he Did not no   he
Went By the Name of Jones here
See [So?] he is no more   i think they will telegrath
(The remaining was written sideways at the edge.)
To his wife But Dont Know
if not you Can
Let her know
So you or get Some one
to do it

Letter of April 8, 1863

[Page 1]

Camp Washington Statin ialand [Staten Island]

Apl 8/63

My Dear wife   i Recievd yor kind Letter of
the fourth and was glad to hear that you and
our Childern were all we1l and hope
that you and them will Remain so with
the will of God i am well at present and
Gaurd at the ferry yet and dont know
how long we will remain here we were
Musterd for pay the first of the Month
but have not got it yet the Oficrs Say that
we will get it before the tenth
but i have heard that we was going to get
our pay so often that i Cant place mutch
Dependence on their word But we may get
it for all that witch i hope we will So
that i Can send it to you So you Can
have that that is Comtable to Live on without
caling on our friends witch is poor dependence
to Suport a family with So you must hope
for the Best and get along as well as you
Can Mary i Cant tell you wether I Can Come
and see you and the Childern or not
Before we go But if it is possible I will Come
Our Army has Been Drove back a Cross the
Rappanoch again and their has Ben great
Loss of Life and great Many wounded But it

[Page 2]

the fate of war that we Cant help fiteing
Joe Hocker has met the Rebbels and hees
had to Come back and i Supose that we
will halft to try a new Genarl the next
time we shoot for Richmond I think we
will take Richmond if we have got men auaught [enough?]
to last to kill all the Rebbles and not
Before it Seems to me that god was against
the Success of the Northen armys for he Sent
a great Rain Storm Just as our Army Moevd
and made the Roads bad and Raised the
Rivers So that we Could not get Supplies a
Crost to the Army i Begin to think that i
will halft to Serve my three years out in the
Army and then the war wont Be at and End
the way things Look i must Confess they Dont
Look verry faveorble to our Arms [Army?] yet we have
Been Beat at all points this Spring it is
Descouring [discouraging?]to me to See Lots of the men
that they Call Copper heads ReJois [rejoice] at our
Defeat they would Rather we would get wipt
for polittical Captial to Elect Mc Clenen
for presedent thi next term this is a nigger
and political war you can see Lots of Men
with a Smile on their Faces over our Reverse or
you May Call it a wipping is more propper name
for it But their is no use of Mourning Over it

[Page 3]

Look for the Best and the Best will
Be that we will never Sucede in Wipping the
South wile we are Devided as we are They Make
The war one Caus with them while when our
Army Starts to meet the foe they have Enameys
in the Rear So you see wat Chance we have
to win but Dont be Disxourage yet i
hope to Come out of the war all Right yet So
So keep a Stiff upper Lip and we will try again
it has Rained for three Days and Nights here
and to Day is windy and Cold Their is
Law going on in our camp but i Cant tell
who will win yet i may be Able to Let you
know in my Next letter if Hooker had Ben
Sucful we Should have Stood a Better Chance to
get clear the Lawyers Say things are working
all Right But i dont place Mutch Confidence
in any things in these times So dont place any
Confidence in it if we beat them there will Be
time aught to Rejoice Over it and then we wont
Be Disapointed witch i hope we will for yor and
The Childerns Sake if not i hope i will go
through the war all Right their has Many Done
it Before me So we will put Our trust in
God that we will Be al Right So keep up
Corage and i will try and Do the Same
that is half the Battle the we will be Right

[Page 4]

My Dear Mary tell the Childern that
their Farther thinks of them Every Night
that Lies down to Sleep and will Continue
to Do So wile he is away from them and you
my Dear wife the same Sometimes i go to Sleep
and Dream i am with you and them and when
i wake i am Disapointed tell them that i
Send My love to all of them and kiss them
for me i Send my Love to Mother and Sisters
And Brothers and Thomas& Margret and
Family and to Mr and Mrs Talbott and all
Enquiring friends Mary i Send you a Big
kiss to pay you in part wat i Owe you Dont
tell any Boddy of it if you i wont Send you
any more you Must take Care of the Short
haird Girle for me So no mor at present
From yor Husband william Davies to his
his wife Mary Davies forever yors

I Cant weight any more for i want
to get it in the mail So it will go to


Soldiers Letter
Due 3
APR 9 . 63

Mrs William Davies
Oswego City Ny

Care of Capt Mc Donald Bos [Box?] 364

Letter of May 31, 1863

[Page 1]

Citty of NewBurn May 31/63

My Dear Wife i Recievd yor Last Letter
But did not have time to Awenswer
it Before we Left we were put on the
transport and paid Six mont wagers
and then the Steamer went to Sea so
you see i had not time to write you a
few Lines to Send with Mr Kellogg
when i gave him the Money for
you with [which] i think you have got
Before this i gave Mr Kellogg fifty
Dollars for you and he Seid he
would go and give it to you with [which]
i hope he has done he came a Bord
of Steamer to accomidate the men
that wanted to Send Money home
with [which] if he had not we Could
not have Done they Rushed us
off in Such a hurry i Did not
Send you All I got i thout
i had Better Keep Some in Case
of need my Dear Mary we arrived

[Page 2]

yesterday all Right i was Sea
Sick on the trip But am well
now it Done me good we had
our horese on the Boat and Arms
and when we get Readdy to fight
all we got to Do is to go out of the
Citty five or Six miles and we can
find Lots of Rebsels the place is
well fortified so they wont Come
for us yet most all of the houses
are full of Solgirs it is quite
a pleasant place Lots of Shade
trees and Lots of niggers you Cant
see a decent Looking white woman
here but Lots of nigger whenches
Last night I was on guard over
the horses and Laid down on Some
hay to Sleep while i Sleep it
Came on to Rain and when i
woke my Over Coat was whett
through i did not think i Could
Sleep out Dores in a rain Storm

[Page 3]

with out waking up But i Did
So you See we Can get used to any
thing in the Army my Dear Mary
my Eyes are not verry Strong yet So
i Cant write you a Long Letter this
time But will do Better With my
next it is pretty warme here how Dose
my Childern get a Long tell them
that their farther has gone to fight
now and he hopes that god will
Spair his Life to them and you
So all we have to Do is to put
our trust in him Mary Kiss all the
Childern for me and write me Soon
as you Can write all the news
you Can Direct yor Letters to
Newbourn North Carlina tell
Margret and Thomas that i Send
my love to them and Mother
and Brothers and Sisters and
all Enquireing friends my Eyes
are So poor that i Cant write

[Page 4]

Decent My dear Wife i hope all
will come Right yet so keep up
Good Corage i Send you a Big
Kiss for your Self Dont tell any
Boddy of it no more at present
from yor Husband Wm Davies
to his wife Mary forever yors

So you Must not Expect
Letters So often as you Did i
will Send you one as often as
i Can if you Cant Direct yor
Lettrs Right get Someone to Do
it for you

Letter of June 17, 1863

[Page 1]

Three miles Out of Newburn
North Carlina June 17/63

My Dear Wife i am well at
present But have had the Sumer
Complaint for more than a week
on a Count of Bad water we have
to Drink here But i am well at
present and hope that you and
the Childern are the Same. i wrote
you a Letter Since we Came But
have recievd no answer to it yet
we Cant get a letter here verry often
their is no Regler mail Boat here
i Should Like to hear from you and
the Childern verry mutch But will
haift to wait paicently for a letter
we are in Camp on a Cotton plantation
three miles from Newbourn in tents
in Side of our pickets   it is verry
hot weather here and Cole nights   we
are keep Busy from four o Clock
in the morning until night taking
Care of our horses and Douling [drilling?] and Standing

[page 2]

Guard   we halft to Stand Gaurd
Every other Night and Sleep on
the Ground when off of our Relief
with is not very Contable [comfortable?] and then
Drill and Do other Duty the next
Day   we Dont get any time to our
Self   when we get Driled it wont
Be so hard   with the hot wheather
and Driling and Governent Racion [Ration?]
we all grow poor but we have not
Lost any men yet  But we have
Lost Some horses since we came
The men Seem to Stand it Better
than the northern horses here   my
horse was Sick But he is a geting
Better   i Just Come in from Drill
with him   i have qot a verry good
horse But he is a Little to Light
for me   when we go on a Raid
i Shall try and get a Better one
for him if i Can and that will
Be pretty Soon   i can hear the canon

[page 3]

now fireing perty Fast  they are
a fiteing a Bout five miles from
here on the trent Road  the artilery
and third Caverly  not us  But a
Other New York Redgiment  we are the
twelth Redgrnent  the Rebbles are
a fraid of the third  when they
meet the Rebsels they go in on a
Charge and Cut them Down Like
grass   they are a hard lot of men
to fight  Jeff Davis has oferd
thirtry dollars for Every one they Can
take of them  when they go in they are
Bound to win  a Sargent of the Third
and thirty men Charge on one hundred
Rebbles Caverly and took therr Coulers [their colors]
and more men and horses than their
own numbor the Other Day  we Dont
hear mutch of the war onely Right
here  i have Cut Off my hair Clost
to my head and Shave Clean  i think
it is more Contable [comfortable?] here   if i was home
you Could not get hold of My hair
pull it for going off to war and Leaving [you]

[page 4]

and the Childern's   But Keep up Corage
My Dear Mary  the war Cant Last
Aulways and Every thing May Come
out Right yet   Mary I would have
felt a great Deal Better If I Could
Have gone home and Seen you and
our Childern Before I went from
New york But I Could not  But
trust in Mercy of God to Let me
Returne to you and them once more
Mary you Must take Care of your
Self and Childern as well as you
Can and of yor own health for you
are all they have to proteck them
wile i am to war  you Must not
Borow troubble for it Generly Comes
fast aught without   I Send my Love
to Mother and Sisters and Brothers
& Thomas and Margret and family
and all Enquiring friends and my
Everlasting Love to you and the
Childern   no more at prsent   Most
Affectiantly yors  Wm Davies
Direct yor Letters to NewBourn North Carlina
(sideways) Twelth Caverly Company of Ny
Care of Capt Church

Letter of July 8, 1863

[Page 1]

Rockey Run         Eight miles              
from Newburne         July    
North Carliana           8/63    

My Dear Wife  i Just Recievd
yor Lettrs and was pleased to
hear that you and the Childern
were well and hope God will Bless
you and them with health wile i
am away from you   i am as well
as i Can Expect   i am glad to hear
that you recievd that Lettr with
the money in that i Sent you &
wish i had Some more to Send
you in this but have not got it
yet  but we Expect to Be paid this
month   you need not fret a bout
me having money for i dont want
mutch here   we are on picket here
Clost to the Rebbles and haift to
Keep a Sharp Look out all the
time for they generly Come when
you Least Expect them and dont
tell you until you See them or hear

[page 2]

Bulets whisel Clost to yor head
and then you may Be Shure
they are Clost by   i Suppose you Dont
know what picket is   i will tell
you   thare is half of Company gose
at a time Every other Day   we half
Start for the out post in the morning
at Eight 0 Clock with our horses
witch is three miles from owr
Camp and Stay there until nine
the Next Day   their is a post
for all the men in Difernt ways
in the woods   one man Stands too
ours and then the Relief Comes and
then we have four ours off post with
the Relief pickit but Cant Sleep
but half to be Ready if the Rebs
Come   i Can tell you it is not very
pleasent to Be too ours on a horse
and Cant See yor nose on yor face
in the night and lisen and Dont
know but a Reb is Crawling up
in the Bushes to you.  Owr Orders

[page 3]

to Shoot the first man that Comes
to wards us   we Sit on the horse with
Cock Revolvers and keep verry Still
So they Cant tell where we are  but
i hope that god will protectt me
for you and the Childern Sake
and i shall put my trust in him
we have Just Come Back from a
Expadicion of fifty miles in the
Rebbels Lines [This appears to be the action at Free Bridge, July 6, 1863. Kenneth Wooster]   their was about four
thousand all to geather inftary and
Artilerry and Caverly   only our Company
was with them   we were Relievd on pickit
by aCompany of infantry to go   we went
as Boddy guard to General Potter   the
Orders Came for us to Report to
Newburne Ameiately   we got Readdy
to go at nine at night and got
to newburne at haift past Eleven
and Started at half past three
i Supose you would Like to Know
how we advanst.   The Expadicion had
gone the Day Before a head So we

[page 4]

So we had to Look Sharp for
the Rebs in the woods a Long the
Road witch their is plenty here

first there was three men a head and
then their Came twelve and then
the General and Orderly   the first
three went a head of the Rest a
bout three hundred yards and the
twelve the same Behind them and
the General the Same Behind and
then came the Company   if the [we?]
Met the Rebs we gave warning to
the Company if they were to many
for us   if not we was to pitch in
and wip them   when we had got
three miles out in Crossing a Bridge
to of our horses got Scart and Jumpet
off in the River until the men but
we got them Safe out only they were
wet through   i was with the twelve
we came up with the infantry and
artilery a bout thirty miles out and
they were fiting with the Rebs   a bout
half a hour after we got thieir the fight
Stopted   the Cornel of one the Redgments
was wounded and one private with shell
we went to a Seches house and too [took?] all he

[The letter breaks off here.]

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27 Abdallah Avenue
Cortland, New York 13045-3302
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