This letter was written by Quartermaster Sergeant William Addison Hosford (1837-1912) of Co. D, 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery. “Addison” was the son of Arad Hosford (1795-1859) and Sophia Alles Bardwell (1802-1872).
At the time of his enlistment at age 23, William was employed as a “teacher” in Oswego, New York. He served in Co. B, 24th New York Infantry and was mustered out in late May 1863. While with the 24th, he was captured on 30 August 1862 during the Battle of 2d Bull Run. He later enlisted with Co. D, 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery although they fought as infantrymen throughout the war.
In May 1864, the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery was sent to the Army of the Potomac, where it was assigned to the Second Brigade, First Division, VI Corps. It suffered its first loss during skirmish duty along the North Anna River. The 2nd Connecticut’s first battle was at Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864, where it suffered 323 men killed or wounded, including Hosford. It managed to capture 300 prisoners and it briefly reach the Confederate breastworks, but Confederate fire was too heavy for the regiment to maintain its position.
The regiment participated in the beginning stages of the Siege of Petersburg before it was transferred to the VI Corps to participate in the 1864 Shenandoah Campaign, during which it suffered heavy losses. In December, the regiment was sent back to the Army of the Potomac. It fought in the breakthrough at Petersburg and the Appomattox Campaign.
William and his wife, Alice Rebecca Simpson, lived in Connecticut for a short time after their marriage in 1866, where their first two children were born. They then homesteaded in Voorhees Valley, near St. Edwards, Nebraska, about 1870 and later moved about 1894 to Albion, Nebraska.”
(POW Second Bull Run, 24th New York Vols. & WIA Cold Harbor, Va., 6/01/64).
Addressed to Mrs. Sophia A. Hosford, Cummington, Massachusetts
U. S. Transport Massachusetts
December 3rd 1864
Here we are on the way down the Potomac to parts to us unknown. I reached the regiment last Wednesday morning [and] found then at Kernstown about 4 miles south of Winchester. The men were busy putting up their cabins for winter & everything seemed to indicate a quiet, easy time in the Shenandoah Valley until the opening of spring. All hoped we were through our hard campaigning for the present. But how suddenly were our hopes dispelled. That very night, about midnight, we received orders to be ready to march at sunrise next morning. According, at sunrise, we were ready & took up [our] line of march for Stevenson Station, nine miles from camp on the road from Harpers Ferry to the front. Only our division marched that morning from which circumstances many thought we were to go only onto that line of railroad to do guard duty. I knew better though, for from a friend of mine at Corps Headquarters, I learned that General Wright had received orders to report immediately to Washington & his command to follow him as fast as transportation could be furnished.
At Stevenson Station we found cars waiting to receive us & the loading was at once commenced. It was two o’clock P.M. before we were ready to start. There were five long trains of cars all loaded to their utmost capacity. Every car was full & besides that, as many as could ride on the top of the cars was obliged to do so. “D” Company had to ride outside. We reached Harpers Ferry about sundown, stopped there about an hour, then went steaming on towards Washington. Arrived in Washington about 8 A.M. yesterday where we drew three days cooked rations & went on board transports. Anchored off Alexandria until this morning. At daylight this morning, the whole fleet weighed anchor & started down the river. Now we are near the mouth of the Potomac.
Only our regiment is on board this boat but the whole division is along. I do not know, nor do I suppose anyone on board knows where we are going, but it seems to be the impression generally that we are to disembark at Fortress Monroe & wait for the rest of the Corps. But where we will go from there is only conjecture.
My health is very good indeed, with the exception of a cold I caught the other night riding on those cars. The health of the troops is good generally. I have not heard from anyone at home since I came away & don’t know now when I will, but you must write often & the letters will reach me sometime. I did not see Blakely yesterday in Washington for I was so busy drawing & issuing rations that I could not get away.
I suppose those trunks have been sent to New Hartford [Canada] before this & if you will let me know how much Jerry had to pay on them, I will send it to him at the first opportunity. Remember me to all the friends. I will write again before long. With love, I am your own boy, — Addison