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15th New York Engineers

Item LTR-9913
November 28, 1861 Charles P. Bacon
Price: $285.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 8 pages, written in period ink.

Camp Alexander

November 28th 1861

My Dear Aunt Stella,

I was somewhat astonished and very much gratified by receiving a letter from you some time ago. And should have answered it before this. But was waiting to get my “Picture” to send at the same time. I got them yesterday and send you four. Please keep one and give or send one to Aunt Susan, Aunt Hat and Aunt Lilla. They are not as good as I wish. But the best I have. They look older (so everyone says) than I do. I hope you will not think I have grown bald in the service because that is the fault of the light striking on my head. The face I think is good. I will have some more taken if I am here next pay day. Then I hope to send you a better one.

I had a letter from Father this afternoon. He says he is invited to take a Thanksgiving dinner with you today. Last Thanksgiving, I dined with you. I wish I could have done so today. I sometimes get quite homesick when thinking of you all. How I wish some Sunday evenings I could drop in on you and make my usual call. You must Miss Mary Bosworth. She is a nice girl and a great favorite of mine. I had a letter from Fanny yesterday. She is well and seems happy. I have not seen Frank in some time. But intend to next time I get away from camp. Jim Pumpelly has called on me once and so has George. I am afraid George will see hard times this winter. I hope he is with a good Captain. I think his enlisting as a private was a very foolish move and can’t understand why Uncle George consented to it.

Hinch was in this afternoon. He saw Jim Tuesday at the review. He said he was staying with Frank at the Arsenal. I expect them both up every day. Hinch has made a man of himself and deserves great credit. By his own efforts, without the aid of friends, he has got for himself a fine position and is in a fair way for promotion. He seems determined to do right and merit advancement and I for one am very glad to see it. He talks a great deal about his mother and is very anxious to see her. He holds an important position in the Navy Yard and is obliged to conduct himself with perfect propriety. He looks older than he used to. Is quite dignified in his manners and is brilliant in his naval uniform with brass buttons and gold lace. He had his photograph taken the same time I did to send to his mother. But he has not got it yet.

I hope you and Uncle John will come to Washington this winter. I think you would enjoy a visit at this time. I would like to show you how soldiers live and a model camp. General McClellan was here last Tuesday afternoon. Inspected our camp and regiment and complimented us very highly. He spent most of the afternoon with us. Stayed to our evening parade and stood on foot in front of the regiment until it was all through with. An honor he has never conferred on any other regiment in the service. He seemed very much interested and pleased with the regiment. Told the Colonel that he had reviewed regulars that day that did not equal the 15th. The New York Times of yesterday has a good notice of the review.

We have been appointed by Governor Morgan as New York State Volunteer Engineers and expect to be recognized by the U.S. when the next Congress meets. When a forward movement is made, you will hear of the 15th in the advance. Throwing out pontoon bridges, cutting roads, putting up fortifications, etc.. We held the advance for some time in Virginia and are perfectly familiar with picket duty. By the way, I have got a very nice secesh table cloth from Masons Hill, which I will send you the first opportunity as a trophy from the war.

It is dark, cold and rainy tonight. I am writing in my tent as comfortably as I would in your sitting room. I have a good floor, stove, bunk, table, shelf for books and pays to have heavy clothes on. Every stranger that comes in is astonished to see how comfortable a tent can be made. We have two or three ladies in camp who have been with us through the whole campaign. The Adjutant’s wife gave a Thanksgiving dinner to some of the officer in her (or his) tent today. You would be astonished to see how nicely some of the tents are fitted up. I was up all night before last on guard and yesterday got leave to go to town. I went through the Patent Office and Smithsonian Institute. Spent most of the day examining the curiosities and felt well paid for the trouble. I don’t leave camp very often as we have plenty to do here and will have an examination to go through with before long, that will thin out the officers some. Those that stay will stand a good chance to get into the regular service. If I should be fortunate enough to pass the examination, I shall try to get a furlough and pay you a visit. If I should not pass, I will have an indefinite furlough.

I hope to hear from you again soon. Although I know this is a very stupid letter. Still, I was determined to make an attempt tonight. I am unaccustomed to corresponding with ladies. So, my inexperience must be my excuse for this effort.

Jim Pumpelly can give you all the fashionable intelligence of the city. I know nothing about it and have no desire to go out of camp to see anyone, unless it is some old friend. I intend to go out and see George when I get a chance. I can’t help feeling troubled about his position. When you write, please give me the address of Aunts Hat and Lille and be sure to write for I am delighted to hear from you and will try to do better next time.

Remember me to Uncle John, Charles. Excuse this first attempt and believe me as ever,

Your affectionate Nephew,

Charles Bacon

I send Father, by this mail, photographs of General McClellan, Scott and Beauregard and two of my brother officers.