1861: George Mortimer Prince to Emeline C. (Tyrell) Prince

Daniel Wright wearing the uniform of the 5th New York Cavalry

This letter was written by George Mortimer (“Mort”) Prince (1837-Aft1900) of the 5th New York Cavalry. George enlisted on 27 August 1861 at Owego, New York, and was mustered in as a corporal in Co. G on 9 October 1861 to serve three years. He was discharged for disability in November 1862 after “15 months service.”

Mort was the son of George W. Prince (1808-1888) and Emeline C. Tyrell (1810-1884) of Windham, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. He married Elizabeth A. Buttles (b. 1842) in the 1860’s and was enumerated as a farmer in Orwell, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, in the 1870 US Census.

Mort wrote this letter on an advertising flyer with one illustrated page of guns and percussion caps made by Merwin & Bray of New York.


Addressed to Mrs. E. C. Prince, Orwell Hill, Bradford County, Pennsylvania

Headquarters, Camp Scott
Staten Island [New York]
September 30, [1861]

Dear Mother,

We are encamped on Staten Island outside of New York City where Col. Ira Harris’ regiment is quartered. We came here instead of going to Washington in Col. Harlin’s regiment as we expected. The boys are not satisfied on account of the bad management of the cooking department. We kicked up a fuss about it and they promised to do better. If they don’t, we will show them and tear the shanty down for they don’t fool [with] our company much wherever we go. You know how the quartermaster have defrauded the government. Well, they won’t do that with us. The other companies are dissatisfied but they didn’t know any better than to stand the grief and such things but we showed them that we know our rights.

We don’t know where our destination is yet, We are not sworn in to this regiment. The boys swear they won’t will they are better fed. We can have our uniforms when we are sworn in, We get our pay next month. We all need it — and clothes too. We have 1400 men in this regiment. Some of the company have their horses. Our Captain is going up where we came from to buy ours. I could get $12 a month for [my horse] Pete if I had him here. The Captain says he will fetch him if I want him but I don’t know how father would like it so I shall not send for him till I hear from you — which I have not yet had a single letter from no person yet. The Captain said they [letters] would be forwarded to us. He has gone to the City today and may get some. I am not homesick in the least [but] enjoy myself first rate. Just been down to the seashore to see the sails and steamers come in and go out and [to] pick up shells and enjoy the sea breeze. It makes me a little homesick to see the noble ships plough the brine but I am just as well off here as there.

They have got a breech-loading cannon here — the first I have seen. I talk some of coming home on a furlough before long but don’t feel disappointed if I don’t come. I understand we have a number of days in a year for furlough — I forgot how many. We don’t get any war news nor any other here — only now and then a paper. Please give my respects to all my friends and my love to my girl. I must write to her soon. I think you had better not write till you hear from me again. As soon as we get where we can stay, I will give directions. I should like to hear good news from you if any. No, I can’t say that I should like it all good or bad, but I hope there be no bad news while I am away. You know what luck I always had in getting letters. Well, I am getting resigned to my fate. Something tells me that you get mine and that I will get some bye and by. I haven’t much more room by the looks so I guess I better stop. So goodbye this time. I send this advertisement to Charley to let him see what pistols are used in the army. There are many more kinds used than there is here. Goodbye, — Mort

The directions to this place is to:

G. M. Prince, Care of Capt. A[bram] H. Krom ¹ — Camp Scott, Staten Island, N.Y.

They try the old great gun tomorrow. Keep your ears open. She carries a ball five miles.

5 o’clock. We have just been sworn in again and will stay here two months probably so now you can write.

¹ Abram H. Krom enlisted at age 24 in August 1861 at Candor, Tioga County, New York. He mustered in as captain of Co. G, 5th New York Cavalry, on 9 October 1861 to serve three years. He was wounded twice in 1863 and mustered out of the regiment as a Major in 1864.


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