15 April 1862

Newport News, Va.
April 15th 1862

Dear Brother,

I now sit down to write you a few lines as we have again received orders to march from here in the morning at eight o’clock. I understand that we are to go towards Yorktown about fourteen miles from here to a place called Young’s Mill. Casey’s whole division will leave here tomorrow. The whole division was out on drill this afternoon about a mile from here. It was a fine sight to see about twenty thousand men all under march at one time. There is one artillery company attached to each brigade and maneuvers with the infantry. We are attached to the Second Brigade. ¹ Our Brigadier General’s name is [Oscar E.] Kline.

The weather is now very pleasant and the roads are getting quite dry so that it will not be so bad moving as it would have been a week ago.

There is not much news here at present. One of our boys got badly kicked yesterday by a horse. He was cleaning his horse when the horse turned round and kicked him on the head, knocking him senseless. He was taken to his quarters and the doctor called but he still remains insensible and was taken to the hospital at Newport News today. His recovery is thought doubtful. His name is [George D.] Eighmy. I think he was from Roxbury.

Our company is now full. It has been filled up out of the brigade to which we belong. There was two men out of each company transferred into our company in order to fill our company up.

Our mail does not get here very regular. I have had two letters from you which were written before we left Washington. I had a letter from Campbell yesterday which was written nearly two weeks ago. There is but little sickness in our company at present. I am well as usual. I think the Southern climate is going to agree very well with me. We are getting as brown as Indians. When we get a chance to look into a mirror, I am afraid we won’t know ourselves. Bob White  and all the other Bovina boys are well.

I will have to close as it is getting late and my candle is nearly burned out and the boys are all gone to bed — but I must write as long as I can. I have said that we were going to march towards Yorktown tomorrow. There will no doubt be a bloody battle fought there before long but whether we will be called into action there or not, it is impossible to tell. The battle at Yorktown will no doubt be the decisive battle. If won by our troops, it will crush the rebellion as Richmond will most likely be taken about the same time as it is said here that Banks and Fremont are marching on to attack it. May success follow them is the earnest wish of your affectionate brother, — H. S. Murray

¹ The Second Brigade of Casey’s Division was commanded by Brig. Gen. Oscar E. Kline. The Brigade was composed of four regiments — the 90th Indiana, the 26th New Jersey, the 17th Indiana, and the 10th Ohio.

Bob White (ca. 1900)

² Robert (“Bob”) Alexander White (1833-1913) is frequently mentioned in Murray’s letters. Bob was born in Ayreshire, Scotland. He was a blacksmith in Bovina before enlisting with Murray in the 8th New York Light Artillery.  Like Murray, he enlisted for three years but was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate of disability in September 1862 after only 11 months.


31 March 1862

March 31st 1862

Dear Brother,

We are now in the land of Dixie within sight of the city of Alexandria and about a mile from it. We are encamped by the side of the railroad which leads to Manassas. We got orders to march last Friday about two o’clock and by four o’clock we were under march for Alexandria with Casey’s whole division. We crossed the Long Bridge a little after dark and kept marching until two o’clock in the morning when we encamped for the night. Taking the canvas which we have to cover our guns for beds, we laid down on the ground and slept until morning when I assure you, the camp presented rather an amusing appearance. Some were lying under the guns — others out in the open air with nothing but their blankets over them. Officers and men were all on a level then, and all glad to take mother earth for a bed and the canopy of heaven for a covering.

On Saturday morning the infantry troops commenced marching towards Alexandria to embark and continued to do so all day Saturday and yesterday. Most of them have now embarked and we have just now got ordered to pack up and march so I must close.

I don’t suppose I will have a chance to write to you very often as we will not have a regular mail and may not get a chance to send. So goodbye for the present. I am well and hope this may find you all enjoying the same great blessing.

Yours in haste, — H. S. Murray