1863: Isaac Bevier to Benjamin H. Bevier


This letter was written by Pvt. Isaac Bevier (1842-1931) of Co. E, 44th New York Infantry. Isaac was the son of Benjamin H. Bevier (1803-Aft1864) and Sarah A. Elmore (1810-Aft1864) of New Paltz Landing, Ulster County, New York. He was the older brother of Lewis Coe Bevier (1844-1923) who served in the same company/regiment. Isaac was wounded in the hip at the Second Battle of Bull Run in August 1862. At Cold Harbor in June 1864, he was severely wounded in the foot but he survived.

“In August of 1861 Bevier mustered into the service as a member of the 44th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as Ellsworth’s Avengers, named in honor of the first officer killed in the Civil War. His letters home provided a glimpse of the slow deliberate move of the early Union forces when incessant drilling and training was the rule of the day. His original letters, some on stationery imprinted with his new home, Camp Butterfield, talked of living conditions, daily routines, the excitement for future battle, and always, the weather. Often the letters contained requests for supplies of clothing and foodstuffs as well as a plea for correspondence. Bevier introduced me to the “sutlers”, the opportunistic vendors who followed the encampments offering goods that were often in short supply. Their offerings of basic foodstuffs, paper, and stamps came at a highly inflated price. Bevier recalled a near riot when a greedy sutler sold a penny stamp for 15 cents!

From late summer of 1861 into the spring of ’62 Isaac’s letters take on the sameness of the daily routines of camp life and the repeated requests for items from home. But on one occasion he noted assisting Thaddeus Lowe in the launch of “The Intrepid” — a helium balloon that could be regarded the first U.S. airship. The letters often contained reference to the Rebels nearby and impending battles that failed to materialize. The reference to battles always contained excited anticipation of the real opportunity for personal glory and the chance to do one’s state proud. When Bevier finally found himself in action in the Peninsula Campaign, it was brief. He described the capture of a Rebel fortification that had used logs rubbed in tar to create the illusion of heavy cannon, thereby stalling the Union advance. But, his next letter was from a hospital. He had been wounded in the Battle of Hanover Court House, taking a ball in his right ankle. A long convalescence followed in a series of hospitals in Washington D.C. Bevier wrote of the city, often of visits with acquaintances, relatives, and other injured friends from the 44th. As he recovered, his regiment was active in the Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. In a letter dated July 2, 1863 he wrote home of the boredom of hospital guard duty, unaware that members of his regiment were fighting for their lives on the crest of Little Round Top in the Battle of Gettysburg. Shortly thereafter he wrote of a detail to the battlefield of Bull Run where he found himself taking lunch in a landscape of countless graves so shallow bones and skulls protruded from the ground.” [Source: Mark Meyer, History Center Notes & Queries]

See also — 1864: Lewis Coe Bevier to Benjamin H. Bevier

[Note: There are 48 letters written by Isaac Bevier to members of his family in the Allen County Public Library Digital Collections. These are available on-line. There is also a letter housed in the Lincoln Collection by Isaac Bevier to his parents which is on-line. See also, More than Words.]


Camp at Mountain Creek, Virginia
November 21st 1863

Dear Parents,

I received your letter of the 14th and was glad to hear that you was all well. Well, here we are in a new camp since I wrote to you before. We came here on the 19th. I wrote you a letter on the 16th stating I had to go on picket that evening. We didn’t go until the next morning and we had a nice time while we was out. Went went about two miles from camp. We had 14 reliefs so we didn’t have to go on post every 26 hours. I would just as leave to do such duty all the rest of my time while in the service.

18th on picket. 19th marching orders. We started for the regiment at 7 o’clock A. M. and joined them at the Rappahannock river, crossed and marched about two miles and encamped where we are at the present time. We have got a fine camp near wood and water which is the main point.

Well, yesterday the 20th we received our pay and I will enclose a $20 bill in this letter out of two months pay and I want you to write as soon as you receive this.

Today I am on guard and I think it a going to be a rainy day. It rains now. I think that this fall campaign will soon be over. We have got our camp all laid out as though we was going to stay here but it is hard telling. They say that the committee in Albany that raised our regiment [is] working to get us home this winter to recruit and the Colonel is also or at least Lieutenant-Colonel. He has got his papers as Colonel but he cannot act as Colonel until we get 700 men and by getting home he thinks that we will get that number. If he was Colonel now he would have command of the brigade. He has had command for a few days.

Well I hope that we will come home this winter. If we get home, I don’t think that the old hog will come back here again. There is great talk about some of the New York troops coming home this winter to recruit. Well I think if they let some of the old regiment come home, they will get more volunteers by doing so, don’t you think so?

I wish that you would send me a pair of good buckskin gloves with cuff on about three or four fingers wide. If you get any, get good ones and let me know what they cost and I will send the money. You can send them by mail.

Well, I don’t know of anything more to write at present so I will have to bring my letter to a close. Give my best respects to all. Write soon.

From your affectionate son, — Isaac Bevier

Number of [$20] Bill 85845
[dated] March 10th 1863

November 22. I received your letter last night with the envelope.


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