This letter was written by Henry S. Joy (1833-1899) who mustered in as 2d Lieutenant of Co. D, 3rd New York Cavalry. When this letter was written from New Berne in April 1863, Henry had been promoted to 1st Lieutenant and was serving as the regimental quartermaster. In the letter, Henry mentions his brother Walter S. Joy (1832-1889) who had served as 1st Lieutenant and later Captain of Co. A of the 3rd New York Cavalry before resigning his commission and returning home in December 1862. Henry also mentions George W. Lewis who served as Lt. Col. of the Third New York Cavalry. Lewis eventually took command of the regiment when Col. Symon H. Mix was mortally wounded while leading his brigade in a charge at Petersburg on 15 June 1864.
Henry S. Joy was the son of Silas Joy (1804-1859) and Melinda Taylor (1805-1895) of St. Lawrence county, New York. Henry probably wrote this letter to his younger brother, Charles Francis Joy (1847-1922).
Most of the content of this letter pertains to the Battle of Washington that took place from 30 March to 19 April 1863 in Beaufort county, North Carolina.
New Berne [North Carolina]
April 5th 1863
I received a letter from you some time ago and have written one or two to Walter since but have not answered yours. It’s a mild spring morning, such an one as when at home in years past we have put on our Sunday clothes and gone to church. The scene here is changed. At daylight this morning the steady boom of artillery could be heard which we suppose to proceed from Washington, North Carolina where a small force of about fifteen hundred men have been struggling against a superior force for several days. Still the unequal contest goes on — which speaks well for our people. They have planted a battery below which commands the [Tar] river on which Washington is located so it is impossible for reinforcements to reach there and the fact is we have no more troops to spare from here as we are daily in expectation of an attack on this place.
P. M. — I have just returned from Deep Gulley where I went this morning. It was reported that the enemy had attacked our outposts and accordingly Lt. Col. [George W.] Lewis and myself went out. When we got there, they had fallen back. General [John G.] Foster and [Edward E.] Potter are both up to Washington [N. C.] having gone up there just before the place was attacked. It will be quite a haul for the rebels if they succeed in taking them. Everyone is expecting a strong attack here at once — at least everyone hopes they will try it for we are confident of success.
My health is not first rate. In fact, it’s not been really good since I came from the North. L____ Beecher told me that he had seen Walter and that he had been been busy drawing rails. I am glad to hear it as its a heap better business than “sojering.”
Let me know when payments are to be made on our land and I will try and raise some right along from this time through.
There has been no news received here from Washington [N. C.] today — some conjecture that it is already taken. I trust it’s not the case. If they take it, their next drive will be for this place.
Write me soon. How is mother? I hope she is improving. Regards to all, — Henry S. Joy