1862: Henry R. Hoyt to William Jay Hoyt

How Henry might have looked

This letter was written by Henry R. Hoyt (1840-1924) who was mustered into Co. H, 19th Connecticut Infantry in 11 September 1862 as a private. He was promoted to corporal in February 1863, to 1st Sergeant in March 1864, to 2nd Lieutenant in February 1865, and to 1st Lieutenant in May 1865. Henry datelined his letter “19th Connecticut Volunteers.” The regiment was re-designated as the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery in November 1863.

In the letter, Henry mentions Lt. Frederick M. Berry who was promoted to captain on 5 April 1864 and was wounded on 18 September 1864 at Winchester, Va. Frederick died of his wounds on 28 September 1864. He was from Kent, Connecticut.

Henry Hoyt was the son of Henry Hoyt (1797-1886) and Irene Calhoun (1803-1886) of New Milford, Litchfield county, Connecticut. He wrote the letter to his brother, William Jay Hoyt (1837-1920). The Henry Calhoun who served with Henry in this regiment was probably his cousin.

The letter references the Battle of Fredericksburg being waged in Virginia by Burnside’s Army of the Potomac against Lee’s Army of Virginia. “I hope it will turn out right and be the decisive battle,” wrote Henry to his brother.


Addressed to Mr. William Jay Hoyt, New Milford, Connecticut

Camp near Alexandria [Virginia]
Headquarters 19th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
December 14th 1862

Brother Jay,

It is Sunday evening and I want to go [to] meeting and I want to write a letter. But I think I will go to meeting as I have not been today. I have been on guard over 18 hours and just got off in time to fix for dress parade and have now just finished my supper. We had hasty pudding, rice and the like.

CDV of Capt. Frederick M. Berry

We had a sermon preached this afternoon but I was not here to go. I have not had a moment’s time to write home since I received yours and I want to go tomorrow and I shall not have time to write half what I want to. I think I shall have to go right off again in the morn. I am well and hearty. My cold is most well. Some of the boys are getting fat as pigs — so is Lieut. [Frederick M.] Berry — and some are growing poor and sick. Henry C. ¹ is very sick and it is rather doubtful case if he ever gets up again. He has been sick a week or two. Sheldon C[alhoun] came down to see him yesterday. I have not seen him only a few moments. I ought now to go and see him but I want to finish this.

I have just been to prayer meeting. They had a very interesting meeting.

I think they have been fighting out toward Fredericksburg today. I think there must be a very hard fought battle and I hope it will turn out right and be the decisive battle. I have been thinking if we had been out there and engaged in that battle, how anxiously our friends would have looked for the news and how restless they would have been until they had received it. They have had very nice weather for their work for a few days past, only it has been a little foggy.

[Sgt.] Henry [C.] Noble is very well now. He has been writing home today. [Corp.] David [E.] Soule is sick with measles. He has had them once before. There is five or six get them in the regiment.

We have got a new stove in our tent that we can cook a little on — not very large — cost $1.50. I do not know as there is any more prospect of our moving now than there was a month ago. Still it will be owing some how this battle turns out. We may stand a chance to go.

We received some pay last Thursday — one month’s [worth] and a part of a month — up to the first of November. I received $22.50 and I don’t care about carrying so much with me so I guess I will send some 12 dollars home by S. Calhoun. It will be safer than by mail. Then if I want more before I get paid off, you can send me some. I don’t know when we shall be [paid] again.

Sheldon [Calhoun] think Alexandria is the dirtiest, nastiest city he ever saw. There is a great deal of business done here — more than there is in Washington. It is the great military depot of the army.

Tell mother if she is a mind to, to get some cloth and make me a shirt. I will like it. She can get such cloth as she is a mind to. I don’t care if it is not like that other. Some checked or plaid will be quite as pretty. I don’t want that army shirt. I think you had better take care of your feet and not freeze them. Do you keep both the colts up this winter? How many cattle have you to winter? How do you like your school? Is not the market for grain and things pretty good? I think you must have had a nice Thanksgiving.

It is time for that drum and I must close. We are drummed to bed, drummed to get up, and drummed to eat and drummed to work. You will have to keep a little drummer boy when I get home. The drum is beating. If I have time to write anymore in the morn, I will. We do not have to get up so early in the morn into an hour as we did. We get up at half past six now. Love to G. Northrop & family and all others.

Ever your brother, — Henry

Monday morn. I will send $12 by S. C.  He may leave it to Uncle Benedict [Hoyt]’s ² or the Post Office. No more time. Yours truly, — Henry

Alexandria, Virginia (1862)

¹ Henry A. Calhoun served in Co. H, 19th Connecticut. He died on 22 December 1862. His death was attributed to the measles. He died at the regimental hospital at Alexandria. He was buried at Washington, Connecticut. Sheldon Calhoun was his brother.

² Benedict Hoyt died on 16 January 1863. He is buried in the Center Cemetery at New Milford.



One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s