Civil War letter 1861, Company D, 85th Pennsylvania Infantry at Fort Hope
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Image above from the Battle of Williamsburg--Gen. Hancock's charge, May 5, 1862. This was one of the engagements of the 85th PA Infantry.
Below is the transcription of a letter currently in the store and listed for sale both on our site and eBay. Some spelling and grammar corrections are made for the ease of reading. There are no true sentences in the letter (periods followed by a capital letter in the next sentence) so some of this is guesswork in transcribing.
This letter was written by Private Jonas Horn (1823-1907) of Company D, 85th Pennsylvania Infantry. The 85th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was organized at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, beginning October 16, 1861, and mustered in for a three-year enlistment under the command of Colonel Joshua B. Howell.
The 85th Infantry served their time around Washington until March 1862 when they moved to the Peninsula and saw action at the Battle of Williamsburg and the Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks). The 85th Pennsylvania Infantry was organized at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, beginning October 16, 1861, and mustered in for a three-year enlistment under the command of Colonel Joshua B. Howell.
Jonas was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate on 24 November 1862.
Fort Good Hope, Dec 30th 1861
I now send you a few lines to let you know that I am well. Hoping these lines will
find you all in Good health. I received our letter of the 22th (sic) and was glad to hear that you are all well. We all a giting along first Rate all in a Good humor in our mess this Morning and I thought I would write you a funny letter in the first place. I will give you the nick names as we are all Cooks. Mine is Sal & Reeses is Bets.
(What follows is a bit confusing) To Reeses is Mol & millers is Cate and Brattons is Sues
But we all sleep together on the ground. We sleep on the table and and eat and sit on it.
We have a good deal of disputing about milking old (cow name?). It takes hard squeezing to get her to give down her milk for she has not had a calf since the last time and she is so poor that it would take three to make a shadow. We have not seen a straw stack or hay stack since we came here.
They are talking of swearing us over again and we have pretty much quit swearing and for that reason we won't swear till we understand what it is for.
We think it is for the purpose of making Reglers (regulars?) of us and if so we won't take the oath. We are willing to fight for our Country as volunteers as long as we are volunteered and that was three years if the war lasts that long. There is a good deal of fuss in Camp this morning about it but I think it will not amount to much.
We don't get much war news here. We are building a large fort here and expect to stay till spring if the Boys across the Potomac does not advance South and then we Expect to follow them and Drive the Rebels out of Existence or make them lay Down their arms or love the United States.
I must bring this to a close. The Girls all send their best respects to all the Boys and would like for them to come over and hold them one night.