This letter was written by Isaac Bradley (1832-1866), the son of Jason W. Bradley (1809-1888) and Elizabeth Sperry (1810-1870) of Bethany, New Haven county, Connecticut. Isaac was honorably discharged 27 July 1863. He wrote the letter to his little sister, Ida Jane Bradley (1853-1915).
Isaac wrote the letter two weeks after the Battle of Fredericksburg in which the 27th Connecticut participated in their first engagement as part of Col. Zook’s Third Brigade of Brig. General Hancock’s First Division. As the Third Brigade attempted to scale Marye’s Heights, the regiments became inter-tangled, resulting in an ineffectual assault and staggering casualties — so staggering that Isaac and others preferred to dub the Battle of Fredericksburg as the “Burnside Slaughter House.”
Addressed to Miss Ida I. Bradley, Westville, New Haven county, Connecticut
Care of J. W. Bradley, Esq.
Headquarters 27th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Capt. [George F.] Hotchkiss, Company E
Camp near Falmouth [Virginia]
December 28, 1862
My own dear little sister,
I have not had time to answer your letter before. It was a good one. I wrote to “Tate” last week but forgot to say that I wished you all a Merry Christmas. We worked on our long [ ] all day. It was not much different from others for us. The day before we went out on a review by Burnside, Hancock, and Sumner. The waving of hats were scattering and the cheering rather faint. Burnside does not take very well since the battle [of Fredericksburg]. The old soldiers want McClellan to lead them. He is [a] black, dark-whiskered looking fellow reminding me of Black Bess, the highwayman in Claude Duval. Hancock looks whiter but Sumner I liked the best. That little, profane, cursing Yank was there.
We have not heard of [George] Brown, [James G.] Clinton, [Edward] Thompson, or Andrew [B.] Castle since although we have looked for them. ¹ Jenett Morris has been here and says that Father is in Washington. If this is so, I wish he would come here for he could as well as not & go over to Fredericksburg, I think. We have been moving the sick today to Washington which we think indicates a march soon or as the papers would say, [to] make room for “probable emergencies.” We soldiers think the latter means fight but we don’t know whether there is to be a fight or march. The defeat has discouraged many of the regiments. We call Fredericksburg the “Burnside Slaughter House.” ² I do not think the place could be taken by a force of 5 times as large as it was. It is a strong place & why the Army was not all cut up was because the “Rebs” did not choose to do it for it might have been done easily.
I enclosed some leaves of the Holly tree before & now I send some more & also some of the berries which I think will sprout if you plant them. They are quite ornamental — loaded full of red plums.
There is a rumor that we are going to Washington & another that we are going to Yorktown — a distance of 160 miles — but we don’t know when nor where. Dwight Hitchcock is quite sick & has gone to Washington. I think he will get well. Ed Carrington ³ was in the fight but did not get hurt. He sends his respects to all. Jim is well and I am as well as he is. We have put up a log home & try to take comfort. A great many of the regiment are sick & many of them die.
I am to be sergeant of the guard tomorrow & perhaps I will be an officer before I come back. Charley Joiner, I guess, will go home.
I wish you a Happy New Year & all the folks. Tate’s letter was mailed the 8th of December but I did not get it till last week. I suppose the ground is covered with snow with you & you are sliding down hill most of the time. It has all gone from here & the ground does not freeze much nights. We have things very comfortable. Jim went over to the 13th today. If you are sending a club list for the Rural this year, put my name down & I will forward the pay to you as soon as I can get it. Have it directed to Westville.
Be my good little sister and answer this soon. I will write again soon. Your Brother — Isaac [Bradley]
Direct the same as formerly.
¹ All four of these soldiers belonging to Company E, 27th Connecticut, were killed during the Battle of Fredericksburg on 13 December 1862.
² In his book, Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr. wrote that Private Rodney H. Ramsey of Co. G, 5th New Hampshire Infantry “fumed on Christmas Eve that he would not actually mention the name Fredericksburg,because the ‘title of the Battle is Burnside’s Slaughter House!…Our army was badly whipped.'”
³ Edward H. Carrington (1836-1894) was a sergeant in Co. C, 27th Connecticut Infantry.