This letter was written by Samuel H. Battell (1838-1878), the son of Luther R. Battell (1796-1859 — a War of 1812 Veteran — and Amelia Pennoyer (1804-18xx) of Waterloo, Seneca county, New York. [Note: Sometimes spelled Battelle]
Samuel enlisted at the age of 24 as a private in Co. C, 33rd New York Infantry (the “Ontario Regiment”) in April 1861 at Waterloo to serve two years. His younger brother John Battell (1844-1924) joined the same company/regiment in August 1862 at the age of 18. Samuel “served through all the battles without accident” for two years, mustering out honorably with his company on 2 June 1863 at Geneva, New York.
The 33rd New York Regiment left the state for Washington D. C. on July 8; was located at Camp Granger on 7th Street until Aug. 6; then moved to Camp Lyon near Chain bridge on the Potomac; was there assigned to Smith’s Brigade and was employed in construction work on Forts Ethan Allen and Marcy during September. At Camp Ethan Allen, Sept. 25, the regiment became a part of the brigade commanded by Col. Stevens in Gen. Smith’s Division. Four days later it was in a skirmish with the enemy near Lewinsville, and on Oct. 11th, it went into winter quarters at Camp Griffin (also known as “Camp Big Chestnut”) near Lewinsville.
The regiment would go on to participate in the Peninsula Campaign in 1862 but saw its first serious casualties at Antietam where they attacked the Confederate position near Dunker Church. A lieutenant in Samuel’s company would later write to his sister of that fateful day at Sharpsburg, “I assisted in butchering over 8,000 Rebels; don’t you think I’m a monster not to say anything of our own poor fellows. The people called on McClellan for blood and he has given them blood.” [– Lt. Robert H. Brett, Co. C, 33rd NY] Before mustering out, the regiment fought at Fredericksburg (losing 221 killed, wounded, and missing at Marye’s Heights) and Chancellorsville.
In late 1860, Samuel married Hannah Ide (1843-Aft1890), the daughter of blacksmith Leander Ide (1806-1887) and Christina Grimes Griener (1806-1900) of Waterloo. Together they had at least seven children. In 1870, the family lived in Columbus, Warren county, Pennsylvania.
Camp of Big Chestnut, Virginia
Sunday 20 October 1861
My Dear Brother Rolla,
It is with unspeakable pleasure I now take my pen in hand to address you. You will think me very unkind in not writing to you sooner, but I have been very busy ever since I left home on a new change of life. We have been building batteries & making trenches & on picket & advancing for some time, & we are going to advance again this afternoon to Vienna & we expect to meet with the enemy there. The weather is getting rather colder which make it not so pleasant to us, but we are getting along first rate.
I wrote a letter the other day to Roney & to Henry Voight ¹ & I have not received an answer from nether of them yet. Please tell them if they want me to receive a letter from them, they are to write as soon as they get a letter from me, for we are removing from one place to another [and] that if they do not, I shall not get their letters. Give my respects to them when you see them. Excuse me writing any more at present date. I must conclude with my best respects to your wife & family — not forgetting yourself — & believe me to remain your affectionate brother, — Samuel Battell
In care of Capt. [Chester H.] Cole Co. C, 33 Regiment N. Y. S. V., Washington D. C.
P. S. Please write to me as soon as you receive this & you will oblige yours truly. — S. B.
¹ Henry Voight was a 34 year-old German-born butcher residing in Waterloo with his family at the time this letter was written.