1865: Homer L. Miles to Emma C. Miles

This letter was written by Homer L. Miles (1835-1916) who enlisted at age 28 on 2 September 1863 at Franklin, New York, and mustered as a private on 10 October 1863, to serve three years in Co. H, 1st New York Veteran Cavalry. He mustered out with his company on 20 July 1865 at Camp Piatt, West Virginia.

Homer was the son of Levi Miles (1809-1889) and Emily Boyd (1813-1878) of Franklin, New York. He was married to Emma C. (1834-1905) in 1860.


Addressed to Mrs. Homer L. Miles, Franklin, Delaware County, New York Moscow, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

Loop Creek, West Virginia ¹
February 14th 1865

My Dear Emma,

I have received two letters from you of late. One was written January 29th in answer to the one I wrote at Remount Camp [Maryland] just before I started. One came from Laura at the same time the other was written a [few] days before. That box has come as far as Charleston [W. Va.]. That is as far as the Express line comes. The agent sent me a letter to inform me there are a number of boxes there for Co. H.  Lieut. [James Crawford] Lakin ² thinks of getting an ambulance to go & get them.

Lt. James C. Lakin

You spoke of Miss Gibbon’s school. I know a little how it goes but if Kate is not there, she doesn’t know anything about impudence. as for Ed Edgerton, I ask no odds of him whatever, I don’t think I ever thought any more of him than he does of me. Emma, I am indeed sorry that you had such a burden on your mind & it is no less on mine for whatever troubles you does me the same. I was glad to hear that you were going to Pennsylvania. I presume you are there by this time according to your & Laura’s writing.

Tonight I received a letter from James E. Kimball. ³ He was well & seemed to be enjoying himself. He said Brooks had done no duty for a long time & thought he wasn’t long for this world if he didn’t go home. I thought he could endure any exposure a soldier is called to.  You asked me if we were in a dangerous place. I don’t think we are. We have it much easier that we did a year ago & if we can only stay here the coming summer, I shall like it very  much. It is generally thought that we will have this privilege for we are here & so far from any other force of ours.

The inhabitants about here like this regiment better than any other that has been here. I have drawn no horse or equipments yet & I don’t know how soon I shall. I have been on horse guard once & on fatigue duty twice but we have it easy here.

I got here just in time to get rid of making ditch & breastwork & another good thing was to have tents already built. This evening I am sitting by a good fire made principally of coal — too warm for comfort such a night as this for it is quite warm. This has been a lovely day — as fine as I ever saw this time of the year. It is what we call good sap weather.

Emma, I would gladly have taken you to that concert but I didn’t get the word soon enough. Since you wrote me about it, how I have wished that I could have been there. We seldom hear such singers as they are but they are gone now. I haven’t heard from home lately but think I shall soon. Last night I had a letter from Aunt Harriet. They were all well in Croton.

There is a scout going out from here tomorrow. They are going afoot. I’m glad I am not detailed for I can’t go on such scouts. My health is good but I took quite a cold on my way here & I have the most of it yet. I wonder why Den. doesn’t write. I haven’t heard from him in a long time. I’m not very well posted on war news for we don’t get the late papers. I hope when you write you will give me a little information. I have just heard that Grant has had a big battle lately & another I have heard which I hardly believe — that is that an order has been issued giving us the privilege of taking our horses & equipments home with us when we go home. If that is so, I hope I shall get a good horse & that peace will be declared soon.

I am some like you. Sometimes I think we will not have to stay much longer & then something I read will make me fear we will have to fight it out. I must close for the present. I hope I will not be in such a hurry the next time I write. Emma, write often & tell me all the news.

My love to you all, from your ever loving husband, — Homer L. Miles

Direct to Co. H, 1st New York Veteran Cavalry, Charleston, West Va.

¹ Camp Loop (or Loup) Creek was located about 21 miles west of Charleston, West Virginia.

² James Crawford Lakin (1837-1908) served in Co. C, 27th New York Infantry and later in Co. H, 1st New York Veteran Cavalry. The following affidavit appears in his pension file:

Before me personally appeared Everett Blanshan of Deposit N.Y. who being by me duly sworn says. I am forty-two years of age I reside at Deposit N.Y. I am well acquainted with James C. Lakin, late Lieutenant of Co. H. 1st N.Y. Vet. Cav., and have been since 1860. I was a member of his Co. in 1865 was Orderly Sergeant of the same I remember in 1865 I think it was in March our Command was encamped at Loup Creek, West Va. There was a flood in the Kanawah River. The river raised 51 feet there was some Rebel deserters on the opposite side of the river from us. Some of our men were detailed to go over after them and bring them across. I think some of my Company were among the men detailed for this purpose. They crossed the river in a boat and coming back the boat was upset by striking a tree some distance from our side of the river bank the boat was swamped and the men left clinging to the branches of the tree. We tried to get them with a line and Lieut. James C. Lakin the claimant herein took hold of one end of the line and swam out to the tree and succeeded in reaching it after trying a number of times. The men had been in the tree all night after Lakin had reached the tree with the line the men were helped ashore more dead than alive. I may not be correct as to the exact time but the fact of the rescue I shall never forget when Lakin came out of the water he was almost dead with cold and fatigue and we were compelled to help him to camp. I was one of the men who helped him to camp and I think Sergeant John Axtel was another. That night Lakin was taken with chills and fever and to the best of my recollection he did not do any more duty while he was in the service but was under the Dr.’s care until his discharge. For two years after his discharge he lived in Deposit and I know he was troubled with chills and fever and rheumatism a great share of the time in my judgement he was sick so he could not work 3/4 of the time during the aforesaid two years then he went west. I of my own knowledge did not know how he was for the next two years after but I heard that he was sick a great share of the time from letters he wrote back. After he returned from the west he was sick about a year that he did nothing. Was unable to work at anything was suffering from rheumatism and chills and fever. After that he lived in various places and I lost track of him personally but would now and then hear from him by letters stating he was still suffering from chills and fever and rheumatism but I could not tell anything of my own knowledge except above stated. I think Lakin was in the river the time I mentioned about half of a day and I further say that I have no interest direct or indirect in the prosecution of this claim and that he Post Office address is Deposit, Broome Co, NY — Everett Blanshan

³ James E. Kimball enlisted at age 36 on 25 February 1864 at Walton, New York, to serve three years in Co. A, 13th New York Artillery. He was transferred to Co. H, 6th Artillery in July 1865.





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