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140th New York Infantry & 4th New York Heavy Artillery

Item LTR-8818
April 20, 1864 Henry E. Richmond
Price: $250.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 12 pages, written in period ink.

Camp near Stephensburgh, VA

April 20th 1864

My Dear Harriet,

This being review day of the artillery Brigade 2nd A Company and myself officiating as Officer of the Day, I have some spare time which I cannot pass more agreeable here than by having a talk with you. A few more long months from home serves to keep alive thoughts of the past and awaken sweet remembrances of your kindness and fidelity, your constancy and love. And as I turn my thoughts homeward, imagination, swift comings outstrips the flying cars and the burden of my heart would gladly be imprinted upon your mind with a quickness and force excelling that of the telegraphic lightning. But a slower vehicle, the simple sheet, must be chosen for the conveyance of these thoughts and feelings. And hence, some days must elapse ere you receive their impressions or influences. Harriet, long have I roamed through the world and far have endured much in the pursuit of something substantial for your own and the children’s present enjoyment and success in life.

The sacred ties that bound my young heart to your interests, I can assure you, have never become weakened or surrendered, in these wanderings and passing showy pain over means of life. But the same bond of reunion which united my young heart to the objects of my early affection, instead of being relaxed or broken, has become stronger during these weary absences and changes of time and now bind me more closely to the cherished objects of home joys and heart loves.

The unforgotten happiness of time spent at home, can never be blotted form the page of memory. Never can be repaid by cold indifference or sealed up to be known no more. This cannot be. The, to me now, melancholy reminiscences and pleasures of childhoods home, the dearest remembrances of Father, mother, Brothers and Sisters, early friendships and the fond recollections of my own loved home, made delightful by concord of feeling and unalloyed affections. These all, are vividly sketch upon memories tablet; and the group of childlike affections which now cluster around this home, although absent and apparently unenjoyed by me, make my home doubly endeared to me. All assuring me of the endearing in heartened and tells me of something to quicken every manly energy and impulse and inspired deeds worthy of such rich possessions and blessing and friendships.

Such are the outlines of the pas in brief and the realities of the home “sweet home” I claim to possess. This to me is the most hallowed spot of earth—the dearest in memory and strongest in attractions of all else in this world.

Yet, for these domestic ties and home endearments the honor and well being of its inmates, I find myself still a wandering from them. Still enduring trial and privation for them and our common country and beloved institutions. How long this may be necessary, the future along must disclose.

Oft I have wished, as the impending storm of war approaches with its dread certainties, that I could lift the curtain which veils the future and read coming events and the good or ill in store for me and my noble boys. But his is impossible and we must trust in the sufficiency of our Heavenly Father in all the coming events of life. Fate, as you say, has seemed to throw us in the hands of designing aspirations and currently us on its resistance tide until now, all the dangers of a sanguinary battle confront us and bids us meet the consequences be they for zeal or woe—life or death. But should we falter even now? Nay, what are our homes to us. All our possessions present or prospectively; with rebellion threatening both social, political and domestic peace. What are home worth without a country united—a government maintained in the spirit of loyalty. Upon these our political fabric rests our social compact depends on family prosperity engaged and enjoyments perpetuated and humanity eventually to be politically and socially blessed. Hence, when our government is vindicated, bloody discord at an end and the blessed morn of peace shall have dawned upon our country united and free, I shall then, gladly turn my face homeward, if God in his goodness so ordains, and once more enjoy the fruition of its blessedness and peace. But here I must postpone this, to my interesting theme. The Brigade is returning and duties call must be obeyed.

April 22nd. I resume the pen tonight after the fatigues of the day to tell you of the most magnificent review I ever beheld of this the 2nd Army Corps by General U. S. Grant. When I tell you that 76 regiments of infantry passed in review before our battalion did, that 60 pieces of artillery for which we are held as reserves and supports, that a fine park of flying artillery attached to the cavalry, with 10 to 15,000 cavalry, making in all, full 40,000 infantry, you may believe it was a big thing for one corps. The day ahs been fine and summerlike for the first in a long time, but now while I write, at twilight, the rain begins to patter upon our cloth tenement, with a prospect of a heavy storm again. Addison thinks there were troops enough out today “to whip all creation” at least the rebels in Virginia. He seems very anxious to go ahead to see the fierce grappling of these mighty hosts, which in a few days he will behold. Like a mighty gladiator, our army is stripping for the contest and in appearance and moral sprit, was never better to deal an effective low upon the giant form of rebellion. We feel here as the people do at home that much depends upon individual effort and that this coming campaign is to close effectually the rebellion bring joy and peace to our people or indefinitely prolong the bloody struggle. But time I must stop and tell you that your paper and contents came duly to hand also yours of the 17th and 18th received last night. I am glad the land is to be worked by Mr. Clark. But woefully disappointed that you had infringed upon the $200 for anyone of any ordinary considerations did you take hi individual note without good endorsement? Don’t hereafter scatter the forces under your control. Keep all forces concentrated if you wish to make them effective.
Addie says this is the way to do in the army if they expect to do anything. I really hope you will need no such sympathy as my kindness has cost me.

1st Battalion 6th Army Corps
Sunday evening, 24th.

Harriet, several causes have conspired to prevent me completing this lengthy letter and I resume tonight what I designed to have finished before. I will relate. Feeling unwell in consequence of crudeness for a few days past if delayed until yesterday (Saturday) when I thought I would resume. But Charles cam and made me an afternoons visit and I was very glad he did so. As our surgeon was absent so that I could receive no advice in regard to my treatment that day. As for some days past, I have gradually become troubled with the difficulty in my hip in consequence of continual wet and cold weather. The day the doctor came, it seemed to take the turn of a neurology and shifted its “base of operations” and attacked me in the left side back and a little below the heart with much violence. The doctor applied cups (dry), which temporarily gave some relief. But before going to bed I was more severely attacked than ever very glad to get to bed the best way I could and with great difficulty could turn myself in laid during the night. This morning the piercing neurologic pains were renewed and the surgeon saw my case observed more severely treatment and applied the wet cups. Just at this time we received orders to move with our Company I to the 1st Battalion, 6th Army Corps. The surgeon tried to dissuade me from going. Said I could neither walk and ought not to ride. But I told him I should go with the company if it took me all night. Upon this he ordered an ambulance, bathed the side freely with a lineament and I thus followed the company for the first time in an ambulance. I am, very tired, sore and it is with difficulty I write except that I hold myself “just so” as the say is. I am now writing in Lt. Smith’s quarters where everything is convenient and pleasant. He is very well, Albert Tupper and all the rest. I am bound to stick with the company until I am compelled to go to the rear at hospital. Addison is bound to stay with the company also. I asked him if I was compelled to remain in hospital or be sent to Alexandria., Near Washington 9where the doctor wished to give me a certificate to go) if he wanted to go as my servant, which I have a right to detail him to do. And he said would rather go with the company, such is him ambition. Although he sympathizes with me in my present difficulty. As well as the caps and all who see the real condition I am now in. I am in hopes I shall be better in a few days and able to do company duties. Yet, we shall soon be on the move and if I am no better or worse I cannot tell what will be done with me. I will inform you at the earliest opportunity. It is now raining some tonight and when the storm is over I may be some relived. I hope and pray so. If we should move as soon as Tuesday, 26th as we now expect, I know not whether I can write you again before starting, will try. After the move, I cannot tell where it is from, what place I can write you. But be assured the 1st opportunity will be engaged to do so. I must now close. I wish I could have written you more encouraging but must ever tell you just how everything is with us. I must say this attack just at this time and with its severity is very discouraging to me. On many accounts, I have not time to mention but which you can imagine. Now my dear Harriet, my loved children, for myself and Addison I bid you a good night. Hoping for heaven’s choicest blessing to be with you all for your safety and happiness in life and your spiritual peace and blessedness in the life to come. Hoping you may receive this in the spirit is given believe my whole life remains to be your husband in fidelity and love, your father in faithfulness and undying affection.

Henry C. Richmond

P.S. Direct for the present, 4th New York Volunteer Artillery, 1st Battalion, 6th Army Corps, Washington, DC. I almost forgot Sarah’s letter of Tuesday 19th was received last night. Gave us much satisfaction. Do write often. You may have a good silver watch sent you in a few days. I sent the one left in my call by a deserter to W—in for repair by Sutler King and as he cannot come back to us with good he will send it to you. In case he cannot get it to me.