1861-64: James Peters Elliott to his Parents

These three letters were written by James Peters Elliott (1835-1909) from Fort Richardson and Fort Scott in the defenses of Washington D. C.  James served with Co. I of the 1st Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery—one of the first regiments to agree to a three year enlistment. James enlisted with his brothers, George Frederick Elliott and Edward Augustus Elliott; James and George in the 1st Connecticut H. A., and Edward in the 5th Connecticut Infantry. James reenlisted in 1864; George did not. Brother Edward deserted the 5th Connecticut in the summer of 1862 and went to Canada.

James wrote these letters to his parents, George F. Elliott (1810-1862) and Hannah Peters (1814-1907) of North Manchester, Hartford county Connecticut.


Fort Richardson
Arlington Heights, Virginia
October 29th 1861

Dear Father,

Once more I seat myself to reply to yours of the 27th instant, not that I have seated myself before to reply to it, but I made a little mistake in my grammar at the first of the epistle.

I was glad to say that we have moved from our old campground down in the hollow where it was very damp and therefore a large number of our men got sick in consequence of having to remain in such a bad place. Nine companies of our regiment are here beside of Fort Richardson. Company A is stationed at Fort Scott and therefore I see [brother] George only once I awhile. I saw him the middle of last week & he was fat and well and to all outward appearance is in line fighting condition. It is about a mile from here to Fort Scott and it is in plain sight from here.

I am happy to say that we have been furnished with 50 Sibley tents new and nice. They are capable to accommodating 20 men each, so your see we are now in good condition to defy a good heavy rain. Our old tents were quite poor and leaked very bad. we bid them adieu this morning. Our Colonel is doing all he can for our comfort and appearance. We have also just been supplied with new drawers and some nice dress coats and pants will be given out sometime this week.

Col. Irish has come upon our ground today and we some expect to get our State pay of ten dollars tomorrow.

We have been somewhat close on our fare lately (that is by spells) and I have paid out of my own pocket to accommodate my appetite which you know hardly ever fails except at some such time as “Merry Thanksmus” or some other occasion when it gets covered up.

I have not much new to communicate at this time and therefore you will excuse me if I do not write any more at this time. Love to all. I am well as usual and am ready to fight or not just as happens.

G. Roe is well.

In haste. Your son, — J. P. Elliott




Fort Scott, Virginia
January 11th 1863

My dear Mother,

Your letter came to hand last evening and I was very glad to hear from home again, and when I think what hard work for you to write, I realize you are ready to put forth uniting efforts for our comfort and happiness. Your letter came to hand in just the right time for me to write. Therefore, you will get an answer as soon as the mail can reach you.

It is most time for our State orders to come around again and also our government pay should come very soon and as soon as we get it you will hear from us and then you will be able to pay up your rent and other bills and have something to live on for a time. I think our pay will not run six months again while we are in the service for some of our head men are looking into the subject.

I shall not send you only part of my pay but shall have it where it can be had at any time in case you need it. Should we stay here, I may be able to use it so as to make something upon a part of it. Therefore I will keep a part of it for that purpose. Should you know of anyone that you think a little money would be of more service to than it would be to you, I can furnish you with some for that purpose besides what you need for your own use and should be glad to do so. You will please inform me upon the subject at any time.

Do not fret yourself about paying George and me for what we do for some time. We may have a family of our own and need some help that you could give, but no matter about it anyway. It is alright at any rate. Should we be so fortunate as to live to return safe, it is all we can wish. I hope Euphrasia will not be as ambitious as to get over done and tell her to look out for that cough that begins in the shop. hack hack &c. Euphrasia is afraid she will be a little expense to us. She may have wanted new clothes or something of that kind. Perhaps that induce her to leave school to go into that shop. If that was the reason, I wish she had let me know. I think she must be very careful how she is exposed to colds and trouble, or she will run down/ Knitting is a constant care and will wear upon sis, if she will let it.

Love to Charley, A__ & Ben. Also to yourself. I saw George a few days ago. He is well and also myself. Take good care of yourself. From your affectionate son, — James




Fort Scott, Virginia
January 24, 1864

Dear Mother,

Once more I resume my pen to write you a few lines. Your last kind favor came to hand last night. Was very glad to hear from home once more. We have been looking for our pay all of the last week but it has not come yet but still we are expecting daily. As soon as it comes, we shall send you some money. If you are out, will you please tis let me know.

As regards moving, I think you had better remain where you are until one or both of us boys can assist and look out for things. It is too much for you to do alone.

I have been drilling recruits the past two weeks six hours per day. One week ago today I was sick threatened with a fever but I took good care of myself and came out of it without a bit if sickness. Monday night I had such a pain on my shoulders that I could not lay down at all. Therefore I did the other thing—that is, sat up all night. But the next day I felt some better and went on drill and came out all right the next day.

I have not heard from cousin Lizzie for some time but had a letter from Lucy Parks a few days ago. Her father is dead. Lucy says that Aunt Nancy is well but she thinks she fails very much. She saids she calls upon her once in awhile. She said Aunt Eliza called on her.

Tell Bennie I hope he will be a good boy and help Mother all he can. Tell I say don’t be afraid of doing too much or more that his part. Bennie is large enough to [do] all of the chores about home even if Charlie did not help at all but I know Charles will help him.

If Euphrasia lends you any money to use, we will see it paid. I was over to see [brother] George about a week ago. He was well. He and I went and heard John P. Gough on Temperance. He spoke first rate.

The thing you sent by John Fagan came to hand all safe. I am very much obliged for them. Remember me kindly to all enquiring friends. Love to all. Affectionately your son, — James



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