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John McCoy, letter, to Martha McCoy, 1864 February 17
McCoy, John


Dear Martha
I am pleased to tell you that on the 9th instant you
and Archy were the cause of me loosing my d[gap: hole][guess (MKR): in]ner, before being dismissed
from company drill on the heavy guns the orderly sergeant called attention to the
list of letters and agreeable to expection expectation my name was incl
-uded in the list and the when the letters were handed to me I could not
wait to brake ranks but tore them open which caused some laughter
among the men. I immediately went to my tent and read them them over
and over until to late for dinner, thanks to you for the large sheet but it
all was only a drop in he bucket you must do better yet. you are your own
boss I am not. Archy you done well your letter is worthy of a reply it will
be attended to shortly. Ely was a little quick [gap: hole][guess (MKR): c]alling on me before She
duned me in writing, the money was on its way to her. she had better try
the potatoes next summer and Pappy if alive will pay her the highest
price. your favor of the 6th instant I received yesterday which ren
-ewed me a little at the same time giving me much uneasiness
concerning the money I sent you from Camp Meigs. immediately
after I read your letter I went to the Lieutanants that came with me
here and told them how it was, they told me to write to the
Honorable H. K. Oliver state treasurer in Boston which I did
this forenoon telling all the circumstances connected with the
whole affair requesting an answer from him concerning it and
desiring him to remit the money to you and if not sent what has
become of it. you need not fret for the officers tell me the money
must be forthcoming it may be the are using it a letter while
on speculation as I hear is often done however I will not let the matter
rest until I get it, the only thing that troubles me is that I may
die or be killed before I have time to have it cleared up —
In order to exonorate myself from blame in not sending you the money.
My self I will tell you exactly how it was with me I enlisted in
the Town of Danvers on the 23rd December and went to Readville or Camp
Meigs on the 24th got mustered into the service on the second of January
Receiving then 27 dollars that I would have sent to you in a letter
but the next day I was called on to sign the State role for the
State Bounty 325 dollars that prevented me from writing or sen
-ding you any until I sent you all at once by express myself
however I was Kept in suspense till the 8th when we got orders to
Start for north Carolina. when called into the office to receive my
money I was all ready to start and full equiped and had no Time
not even to consider what was best to be done — the first question
the officers asked me was if I wanted the money all down I said
yes the then said if I wanted the money sent to my friends they
would do so free of charge I replied that wished it sent to my wife
whereupon the asked for your address which I gave in writing
they told me the money would be in chateaugay within ten days
from that time I thought it would be better than to run the risk
of carrying so much money with me when in company with
so many fit subjects for Newgate some of the men was penny
-less when reaching Baltimore I done all for the best for my
family I saw the money all enclosed in an envelope with my
name marked on the back of it your address was placed on
the top when I left the room — so now you have the whole truth
the whole Bounty was to be 627 dollars the remainder to be paid
by installments up to the time of my enlistment which is three
years — the three years commences on the fifth of October last
the time the company was organised first the wages is
13 dollars per month and it is rumured here that a bill
is before Congress for more no matter what is is you shall
have all that I possibly can spare and I will even pinch myself
to send it to you all that troubles I have not more I spend
no money for anything except what I can not help and that is
very little since I came here I have not been in the City yet nor
do I indulge in anything in the way of luxury. liquor I have not
tasted since I lift Philadelphia and there it was for sickness. the
rest of the men buys a great deal of Pies cakes &c sometimes a little
whiskey and oysters and sometimes the guard house follows
but Poor John feels satisfied with humble fare rather than spend
what his loved ones need at home, pay day will soon come I if and
if I am living the money will not rust with me, enclosed I send
you five dollars all that I will risk at present. I could send you
ten but I will keep five for my next so the quicker you write
the sooner you will get it this is for Mag the next will be for little
Pip you must wait till pay day and also the Boys but all is
dear the same to me — it is near Taps I must make my bunk
and go to bed as lights must be out at half past eight oclock —
and I trust the almighty will preserve me to finish tomorrow.
Feb. 18th candle lighting — the turmoil of the day is over I must now
devote a little time with my old woman until role call you
wished to know a my routine my washing I get done regular
the neg washwomen the come to our tents every morning for clothes and
return them when washed punctually their charge is five cents each
for any article except pants or coats which is ten socks HdKf. and
gloves I wash my self and from this forward all the rest. my
white gloves must be put on clean every day on dress parade
every day. when in the wash house I sometimes look round to see if you
are looking at me handling the soap. I sleep in a stockade tent
containing four Bunks and stove two men to each Bunk my
partners name is Eugene Park a nice young two ruber Blankets
is our Bed tick our covering two Blankets (woolen) the knack
sack my pillow. we are kept very busy here the morning gun
fires at sun rise at the same time the Bugle sounds for role call
after that we sweep out the tent fold the Blankets and sweep or police
the yard opposite our tent then fall in for Breakfast after that wash
ourselves and dishes at ten oclock company drill to eleven or half
past fall in for dinner at twelve wash again and Blacken Boots
at one oclock Battalion drill which lasts some time, after that clean
our guns Brush our Boots Polish our Belts and Brasses Brush our
dress hats and coats then dress parade at four oclock and a prayer
from the chaplain (excuse me for miscalling him) after that supper
wash again roll call at half past seven then make Bunks read and
write to half past eight Tatoo or taps lights out, Bunk in and sleep
this is a short sketch now however your curiosity will be more fully
satisfied here after. this and other places of the coast defence in this
state is being reinforced from the north as the expect the theater
of war will be here the ensuing summer every vigilence is using
here by the officers in command to have all the forts well fortified we
do not no the night that Newbern will be attacked by the Confederate
army lying at Kingston about thirty miles from here under the Com
-mand of General Picket. Before this reaches you, you will see in
the papers that we were attacked here on the first instant by
the Rebel forces under Picket the fighting commenced at Bachelors
creek and deep gully some distance from the city the drove
in all our Pickets infantry Cavalry and artillery with heavy loss
in killed wounded and prisoners capturing two rifled guns 14
officers Killing 1 Col 1 adjutant 1 quarter master and several
Com missisary officers our men retreated into the forts under cover of the
guns the rebels advancing to within 1 1/2 miles of the forts our
guns opened on them with shell and Canister which caused them to fall
Back taking a large number of small arms clothing provisions
ambulances waggons horses mules cattle and military stores probably
all that General Picket wanted on the second night came down
the river and captured the Gun Boat under water and Burned
her up the also tore up the rail road and Telegraph wires
in Both sides of the city the band came close to us and
played "Dixies land" and "Bully for You" &c. the Newbern
paper was surpressed by order of the authorities here it did not
please them, the southern a/c of it is quite correct. More.
Again. I lay to days & nights behind the parapets ready for action
Write quick you forgot to mention my father and who shaves him in fact
you forgot all both yours & mine. Mind next time. I hope the childrens throats
is better god spare you all till return
your own as ever
John McCoy
This postscript is written across the top of the first page of the letter.
I wrote to Gardner a few
days ago. I will write to
you again in a few
days answer every
as you get
them
JM
excuse Blunders the noise is so great,
it is almost impossible to write in camp
Try the Collector
in Chateaugay the money was to gow
to the Treasurer
it might be him
do not mention you
get money in my
letters the might
be opened by some person
JM
HomeJohn McCoy, letter, to Martha McCoy, 1864 February 17
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