These three letters were written by Pvt. Daniel Kellar Shoeman [Shuman] (1836-1934) who enlisted in Co. M., 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry 20 December 1861. He was promoted to corporal sometime before his discharge on 19 December 1864.
Daniel’s parents were Daniel Shuman (1797-1865) and Catharine Kellar of Blain, Perry county, Pennsylvania. He wrote the letter to his older brother, John D. Shuman (1827-1904), who was married prior to 1860 to a woman named Mary (1834-1917).
On 26 December 1865, Daniel married Mary A. Peters of Unionville, Pennsylvania. By 1870, Daniel and Mary had moved from Pennsylvania to Adair county, Missouri. The couple had four children — Cora Frances Shuman (1866-1895), Viola Shuman (1868-1871), Joseph Solomon Shurman (1870-1956), and Margaret B. Shuman (1880-1955). Daniel is buried in Gibbs Union Cemetery.
[Note: the family name is usually spelled Shuman which complicates genealogical research.]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Fairfax, Virginia State
3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry
March 13, 1862
I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you and all the rest of the family enjoying the same blessings.
We have moved. On Monday last, our regiment and the 8th Pennsylvania was the regiment that was ahead in taking all these places — Fairfax and Centreville and Bull Run and Manassas. They followed the rebels up pretty fast all along but never got aside of them until they got in Manassas. Then they got aside of them but couldn’t get close enough to take any prisoners but three wagons and four horses in each wagon and four men.
Manassas was all in a blase when they got inside of it. Our regiment came back to Fairfax again. We are encamped here now at Fairfax. It’s a very nice place here — a great deal nicer than where we was before [Camp Marcy, Va.]. Our company was kept back to guard the wagons with feed provisions. There was twenty of us out one day and we seen 10 of their pickets. They shot at us but they didn’t kill any person. We chased them back about three hundred yards in their woods where there was plenty more of them laying. The first ten was stationed at a house. After we chased them back three hundred yards, we set the house afire — a fine house. They stood off three hundred yards and looked on. After we left, they came back and stood around the fire and warmed themselves. ¹
There is about a thousand encamped around here. They got about ten barrels of flour at Manassas too.
I don’t know when we will get paid now. I suppose about the first of April. I can’t tell. There is nothing sure about it. I think the Secesh will soon be scared out. Write soon and send me about five stamps — postage stamps — for I can’t get any here at all where we are now.
Write soon. I remain your brother, — D. K. Shoeman
I had no ink and very poor pencil.
Twenty miles [out] of Washington now.
¹ In the history of the regiment, it was noted on 7 March 1862 that “Company M engaged [the enemy] in the vicinity of Vienna [while] protecting laborers at work upon the Loudon and Hampshire Railroad. Captain Brannix reports having seen a number of rebel pickets mounted. In one instance, where they had secreted themselves in an untenanted dwelling, they [were] routed out and the building destroyed.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Fortress Monroe, Virginia
March 28th 1862
I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you all in the same blessings. I got that letter you wrote me that Jacob Keller was there on a visit.
We have left the old place. We come here on water in a steamboat on the Potomac and then on the Chesapeake Bay. We got on the boat on Monday night at Alexandria 6 miles from Washington City. The first night after we got our horses and all our things on the shore, the boat out in the river laid there all night, then started in the morning. Was on the water three nights and two days and a half. Then we landed at Fortress Monroe and here we are now encamped. We come one hundred and 40 miles on water. We laid on the water two nights. We didn’t move any at all. We are about five miles from the rebels now and we’n is still driving them back.
The sun is pretty warm here today and cold at night. The rebels have burned a splendid village [Hampton, Virginia] here before they left it and we’n took this place some time ago, The families all left here. It’s a fine looking place around here but very shanty and soft. I don’t know how long we will stay here but write soon. The letters will follow. And write as soon as you get this.
You was asking about writing letters after this month. There will be no stop put to it. That I know of. It’s all talk about home. We write whenever we please and put in whatever we please too.
From your brother, — D. K. Shoeman
There is about 50 thousand soldiers encamped around here.
Direct your letter to Fortress Monroe in care of Capt. [George H.] Brannix, 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company M.
Put Virginia down before you put elsewhere. Put it on last.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Addressed to Mr. J. D. Shoeman, Blain, [Jackson township,] Perry county, Pennsylvania
Camp near Yorktown — where we are expecting a fight everyday.
April 15th 1862
I am well at present and hope these few lines may find you all in the same blessings. I received your letter last week with the stamps in it. That will do me until I will write again. That will be as soon as this battle is over here at Yorktown which is expect will be a pretty big fight for they are pretty well fortified and their force is somewhere [near] forty thousand. Our forces is pretty well up to [a] hundred thousand and any amount of cannons we have here now. Our men is still fitting up as fast as they can. They have got them very near surrounded. It’s hard telling how it will turn out yet.
We landed here yesterday a week. There was some little shelling done and a few men killed of ours and I don’t know how many of theirs were killed. The rebels and our men is only a half a mile apart. Our regiment was that close until 2 days ago [when] our regiment moved back about a mile from the enemy. There won’t be any chance for us to get in to it for there won’t be much chance for cavalry in this fight here at Yorktown.
Our men has got a balloon here. The head officers goes up in the basket fastened to it high enough to see all around. They can see how the rebels is fortified. Then they just know how to take them. ¹
I think if we can take this place, we can go through pretty fast. This is about their main stand in Virginia State. No doubt this battle will commence this week. I don’t think there is any doubt but we can take it but there will be a good many lives lost. That is one thing certain but we can’t expect anything else in time of war.
Nothing more at present. I will write as soon as this fight is over if I can get a chance.
From your brother, — D. K. Shoeman
You needn’t write until I write again first. There was none killed at Bull Run. A few men taken prisoners taken, and a few teams and some flour. Our men went into Bull Run after night. Everything set afire and [ ]. They had pretty nice winter quarters around here.
¹ Professor Lowe was known to have made several ascensions in his balloon Intrepid on 6 April 1862 near Yorktown, Va.