January - February - March 1863 Letters

The 112th New York is attached to Gibbs' Provisional Brigade, Division at Suffolk, 7th Army Corps, to April, 1863.

Camp Suffolk, Va., Jan 12th; 63


          Dear parents,

                    Yours of the 4th is at hand & I now sit me down to answer it.  It is now quite late in the evening after roll call & I must make haste.

                    I am well as usual & in good spirits & hope these few ill written lines may find you in good health.

                    We have just had one of the worst marches ever made in Va  I will tell you something about it.  Last Friday we started before sunrise for South Quay @ town 22 miles south west from here in North Carolina.  We went 13 miles & bivouaced for the night; it snowed @ little in the night.  We expected to be attacked in the morning as it was reported that 2/3000 rebs were within 2 miles of where we were .  morning came but no enemy so we marched back @ mile formed in line of battle & waited there 2 hours then marched for Carsville 4 miles distant where it was also said there were @ heavy force but when we arrived there we found they had been gone @ week: so we were about faced again marched back then started for Suffolk on another road leading east.  Well we were marched to within 11 miles of Suffolk & halted & encamped. At half past 4 we were rousted out marched about ½ mile but for what purpose I cant state but probably some one had seen @ shadow; we stood in line until morning & then started as we supposed for Suffolk but we were greatly disappointed for instead of going to camp, we went to Windsor 14 miles north west of Suffolk.  Here we thought sure of an engagement as the day before there cavalry attacked Dodges mounted riflemen & drove them in. When we arrived there they had just skedaddled: we were formed in line of battle the 112 supporting the battery.  Here we had 8 regts infantry one of cavalry & 10 pieces of artillery  Soon it commenced raining & at half past five started for camp.  Words cannot describe the roads; for on an average the mud was 6 in deep & some places 18 & so dark that you could not see the man before you.  Never did I believe that roads could be so  but now I believe what I have heard about Virginia roads.  Col Drake is @ losing all the friendship of the boys; us marching so fast is all his fault: & then when we got home making us drill is one of the most unkind and unhuman things that ever was known.  The principal talk now is about Drake.  some of them wish he would fall dead.  I guess I will stop this talk.  The report is that we have got to move our quarters about 20 rds. 

                    I cant write to night for I am so mad that I feel like fighting our officers  I think I could eat up half @ dozen.  Before this reaches you, you will hear about the battles in the south west.  Another slaughter has been made  but still our army was victorious.  I wish you would buy that pen I let Ben have & send it to me for I cant get @ pen fit to write.  You said you would send me some more things.  I would like some butter & apples but you need not send anything until you hear from me again then I will tell you what I want.

                    We have not rec’d any pay yet but expect it soon.  Henry Pendergast of Quincy I hear is our paymaster & he is to pay the mounted rifles to day  probably we will get ours this week.  Tell Emma I will write her soon.

                    I must bring this to @ close for my pen is poor & my mind is LayLay Give my love to all friends after taking out @ share for yourselves.  Write often telling me the news.    

                             From Robt to his parents


Good-bye                                      B. & S. Coe


Suffolk Va  Jan 24th 1862 (1863)



Dear parents

          It is with pleasure that I now sit down to answer a letter I rec’d from you last night.  I am well at present & hope this will find you well & enjoying yourself.

          The weather here is good overhead but some muddy beneath.  You said that its was snowing when you wrote & probably by this time it’s good sleighing & wish I could be up there long enough to take one good ride; but when that time will come I know not, probably 3 years from this winter I shall be satisfied if I can be priveledged to come then. Some of the boys think they will go home next summer; I don’t think so.

Lieut Damon has resigned & gone home & now we are left to our own destruction or in other words to be devored by the old tyrant Capt Palmeter & his colleagues.  ……was appointed the orderly, a mean low lives son of a gun, a 2nd Lieut & Tucker for corporal as orderly, he is a misdeeded drunken fellow.  I think the Sergeant Major will be our 1st lieut; he is a fine boy & swears by all that is great & good;  if he gets the position he will stick by us; he has been to school at West Point.  I don’t want you to blame the lieuts for resigning  they had good reason for it,  Bird  if you could get acquainted with Damon you would say he was a fine man, if you should have occasion to go near where he lives  call & see him; he will tell you all about matters & things   you spoke about sending me a box  I will tell you what I want, 8 lbs of butter, dried apples @ little pepper  some pills & I guess that is all:  you need not send any berries   butter & apples are the principle thing. Don’t send @ very large box.  Send a letter at the same time. Bird I have @ good time with that 2 dollar bill you sent me. I will send it back to you for I am not smart enough to pass it: every man here has @ detector in his pocket. You know probably who you got it off other it will not be @ loss to you.  We expect our paymaster to night  then I will get my picture taken & send to you.  Please write immediately after the receipt of this.  Give my love to all enquiring friends.

From your son


Robt L. Coe

Good bye

B & S Coe




Camp Suffolk, Va. Feb. 8. 1863


          Dear parents your kind letter of Feb 2d was received last night & it was with pleasure that I recd the same.  Father your likeness looks very natural; I was glad you sent it for it almost seems that you are here. 

          I am well at present & hope this may find you all the same. The boys of your acquantance are all well & fit as bucks.

          We have had quite a snow storm it was about 6 inches deep it was very cold while the snow was on; but now it is quite warm the snow having all gone off the ground.  To day we had regimental inspections by the Colonel & staff. Colonel (Lieut) Remington was resigning & gone home Major Carpenter takes his place & Capt John Smith of Co A takes the place of Major Carpenter.  Major Carpenter is a fine man worth half a dozen like Lieut Col Remington.

          You spoke about an oyster supper at J.Y. (Cousins?)  I would like to attend ??? as for oysters we can have all we want at 25cts a qt. They take them out of the shells…???

Monday morning

This is a splendid morning the sun shines bright & it is warm as spring. I looked for the box last night but there was no express last night  I think it will be here to night.

          Last night our company had to lay in Ft Union; this one thing that the boys don’t fancy, wet or cold it is all the same through all the cold weather 1 company each night had to lay in them I am clear from all such things all I have to do is to go on battalion drills when there is one & on drepparad  There is not any news to write  I will write again when the box comes.

I have not had a letter from Ed (Coe) since the last of Dec…when you write tell me all about the boys & write all the news.

          Give my best respects to all inquiring friends,

Your son

Robt L. Coe

B&S Coe

I would like to know whether you have heard from uncle Rob.

Good bye

Robt L Coe

The box came tonight all right.



Suffolk Va., Mar 8, 1863


Dear parents,

          Yours of the 28 inst is at hand & it was rec’d in due time.  I was glad to hear from you  & to learn that you was well & enjoying yourselves. Mar 8 finds me still in the hospital  I expected to go to camp long ago but the Dr has put it off till now one thing is I draw my rations here & will until they draw again which will be the 10th  then I shall go to camp.  I have been here over 3 weeks.  Jim has got the Diptheria  he was taken the 4th  yesterday the Dr said he was better. It has been to rainy this morning  I have not been up to see him.  Three boys from our Co. has the diptheria.  The only ones in the regt.  The Dr says this climate is not adopted to the disease & there is no danger from it.  You wanted to know how much I weighed   well before I was taken with the measles  or the last time I was weighed  I weighed the enormous sum of 192 lbs.  Jim told me after I came over here that he was weighed & he weighed 196. You see by this that we were fat enough to beef.

          We have had @ short thunder storm this morning it is very warm for this month.  There is not any news to write for it is rather dull times here.  You spoke about looking for glorious news from Vicksburg well I have been looking for the same but it has not arrived.  on the other hand it is rather bad two gun boats have been captured.  Queen of the West & the Indianolia but then our boats have destroyed the Nashville which about pays for the 2 boats.  I think before long that we shall hear good news from important places.  I want you to tell me what you & the others around there think about the “conscription act”, whether they are glad or mad.  I would like to of seen that fight you spoke of  I think Bill Jones has @ little coward about him to take an ad to stick @ man with.  I wish Bill Kellogg had choked him until he couldn’t blat  I have not had @ letter from Ed (Coe) since the last of Dec  when you write tell me where he is & where Ros(well Coe) is.

          I am to messy to day to write I cant keep still long enough so you must excuse me this time.  Write often. Hoping to hear from you soon  I remain your affectionate son



B & S Coe

Good Bye




Camp Suffolk, Va. Mar 15


Dear Parents,

          Yours of the 9th inst was rec’d this morning  I was glad to hear from you  & to learn that you were well.

          I am well & all right  I came to camp @ week ago today & you may bet I was one glad boy to get to camp  I think I was not made for @ caged bird.

          I was up to see Jim (Rhodes) last night he is getting along well  four boys in this Co have the diptheria now.  It does not go very hard with them not as hard as it does up north.

          To day is Sunday it is very pleasant but rather cold  I like this country well in the winter season but next summer I think will be some warm.

          The citizens around here have planted there potatoes it seems early for planting we shall have new potatoes here very near as soon as you plant yours up in York State. Last week 5 regts of corsters troops came here   they were in the battle of Antetiam & Fredericksburg they have seen worse times than us Suffolk fellows have.  What they are sent here for I don’t see without they are going to make a forward movement from this place.   Some of these boys say that the 49 is in their corps & is coming here.

          About my boots  they are all sound not a hole in them. Only at the top. The things in the box you sent Jim (Rhodes) & me came through all safe & sound.

          You spoke about the stories that are afloat there about Lieut. L.T. Damon.   I don’t see who there is in the 112 that could have @ heart to tell such falsehoods.  Lieut Damon never took @ ration from the boys & and if you hear any body say he did you just tell them for me that they are @ liae.  Once when our boys were out of bread he took one or two of the boys  went down town & bought 3 dollars worth of bread.  But our captain has lived one the boys rations principally ever since we came here.  I know that Lieut Damon did not take any amount of money home with him for he borrowed money off the boys not but @ short time before he went home.  I am for Damon & shall be for I believe him to be @ man in every respect.

          Well old folks since writing the above I have been down to town to @ negro meeting.  I wish you could have been there to see them. They are equal to any Brethern  I ever saw jump & holler.  The house was full of soldiers & officers from all the regts around here. We have services every Sabbath down town in the Methodist church.

          You wanted me to get the good will of my officers, that I shall never do for such officers deny respect from any one not even @ dog. Company officers I mean. Answer as soon as you receive & oblige you soon.

B & S Coe                                                  Robert L Coe 



Suffolk, Va.  Mar 22, 63


                                       Dr parents,

I recd yours of the 16 last eve & was glad to hear from you & also to learn that you was enjoying the blessings of life ie. good health & plenty to eat.  To-day being Sunday & having nothing else to busy myself with I thought I talk with you a little by the way of paper & ink.

          I am well as ever  I was to contented as a lamb  I never enjoyed better health nor was less free from a cold than I have been since I enlisted  I have about made up my mind that if one is careful & takes care of himself he can enjoy just as good health & is as free from diseases as any other place  Although there are exceptions, there are camp diseases that no one can escape.

          We have had quite a young winter for @ few days past  it has snowed & rained steady for about 3 days.  The snow was about 4in deep; but now it nearly all off.  I have no news of importance to write for times are dull here as probably they are where you are.  The 14 Pa Cav., have been out to Franklin on @ scouting expedition  they found the rebs on this side of the river; they had thrown up a small fort on the bank of the river & so nothing to do but Gen Peck must have the cav. Charge on the fort so he sent @ dispatch to Col Spear telling him to take it if possible so he charged on the fort twice, but having no infantry to support them & only 4 pieces of artillery, they were refused & were obliged to retreat  they captured 1 lieut & lost in killed wounded & missing about 30.  This is one of the many instances where there the loss of life is not necessary.  If Peck had wanted to drive them from there fortifications  why didn’t he send out one or two infantry regts  it shows how little he cared about it  make a cav force charge on @ fort for the purpose of capturing it is one of the wildest ideas I ever heard of  it is impossible for cav to get into @ fort.  Even if Col. Spears could of taken the ft. the rebs would crossed the river to shell them out so that is would not of been of any advantage to us.  I think on the whole it was @ poorly planned concern.

The report here is that Longstreet is this side of Petersburg with @ force of 18000.  I think that Peck believe now that we shall have an attack here  but there will not be any such good luck as to have the rebs attack us.  Nothing would suit me better than to have them attack us here  I know we could give them what they deserve.  We have been now built & being built 40 forts & probably 10 miles of rifle pits & breast works.  I wish that we would with all other forces make an advance  I am getting tired of laying still so long if I am going to be of any service to the Government  I want to commence soon.  Last night the papers stated that probably Vicksburg was in our possession but I cannot believe it for the papers tell so many different stories that we know not when to believe them.  Sometimes I wish there was not @ paper printed.  One of the greatest evils in the army is the circulation of the New York Herald  it has caused more dissatisfaction towards the government than any other thing since the war commenced; it has @ large circulation through the whole army.

          You wanted to know about the Stebbins boys  they are all well  Mrs Chapel has a good brother  he is well liked by the boys.

Thinking that your patience will be worried by the time you read this I will close.  When you receive this write & write about every body & everything.  Hoping to hear from you soon  I remain your son

                                                                   R.L. Coe


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