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94th New York Infantry - 47 Year Old Drummer

Item LTR-7846
March 22, 1864 Benjamin C. Near
Price: $200.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 4 pages, written in period ink.

March 22, 1862

My dear and my much respected Sophia,

I have seated myself this morning to drop a few lines to you to let you know where I am and some of the hardships that I have past through since I left you at the harbor. The day we left the harbor I walked all the way to Watertown and you must know that I was very tired. I never slept any that night. We got all safe through to Albany but after leaving Albany, we met with a rather bad accident owing to the carelessness of the engineer running too fast. About 50 miles below Albany on the Hudson River, the cars run off the track. The seven first trains ran off the track and smashed them to pieces. Our brass band being in the second car, smashing all their instruments and some of our marshal band but we as men came out quite safe by a very struggle to get out of the water. It was a most horrible sight to behold. I got out safe by getting wet clear through and got my drum out safe. Sam Glasier and his son went to the bottom and were drowned with 5 other fellows that I did not know. They were all taken out of the river the same night. I felt that God was on our side. It might have been a great deal worse. That night we rode all night and the next day we arrived at New York. We staid in New York 3 days and then we went to Washington and staid in the freight house all night. It rained very hard all night. Next morning we marched to rural hill, 5 miles. The mud is to the top of our boot legs. I was about tuckered out when we got there. We stayed there that night and next morning we came back to Washington and crossed the Potomac to this city where we expect to stay to guard the city. We are now in the enemy’s land. I have never felt so patriotic as I do now. I am well and feel well at present. Benny has been quite homesick since we have been here. I bought him a good warm breakfast this morning so that I think he will get over it in a short time. I don’t believe that Benny would have lived if I had not come with him. I am a great deal company for Benny and Charley. One thing makes me feel bad. Charley uses bad language but he has promised me to be steady and not swear any more. But oh father, the army is a bad place for a young boy to learn bad habits but I hope and pray that I may be useful to Benny and Charley. I want you to pray for me much that I may live in accordance to my profession. We have all fared very since we left the harbor but as soon as we got straightened around, we hope to live better and that will be in a few days. I never saw such mud as I have seen since we came to Washington. I have been with Sam Lester and Benny to show them the place where Col Elsworth was shot. I showed them the stairs he went up to take down the “sess” flag. They thought it looked lonely. We are 4 miles. The 24th Regiment, they have marching orders to leave day after tomorrow. Some of the boys have been here to see me today. I saw Minerd yesterday. He came to see me. I would be glad to see you all but that is out of the question now. I think if we have good luck, in 2 or 3 months we shall all get home.

I want you to write me a good long letter when you write to me. Father, I want you to stay with Sophia till I come home. I shall send my money home the first that we get our pay. Alexandria is quite a pretty city – pleasant. We think we can take good care of it.
The 94th Regiment is a good regiment. Called the best or we should not have had the honor to have been sent here so soon. Other regiments have been to Washington for months and stay there still. Our colonel is appointed governor over the city. Direct your letter:

B.C. Near
Co K, 94th Regt
Alexandria, Va

So good by for this time. Give my love to the children. Kiss them all for me. I wonder if Laury wants pa to go off to war. Again, kiss Mina twice for me. Tell Ella not to feel bad. I will bring them something when I come home. Give my love to all inquiring friends. From your dearest husband. B. C. Near, Sophia.