1861: Thomas Crary to George Young

This letter was written by Thomas Crary (1834-1930), the son of Calvert Crary (1798-1878) and Eliza Hill (18xx-1897) of Liberty, Sullivan county, New York. An obituary notice for Thomas reads:

“Thomas Crary, 96, of Hancock, well-known throughout the Southern Tier for his accomplishments in the fields of lumbering, tanning and mercantile activities, died at his home November 21, following a brief illness caused by a cold. He was born on the family farm near Liberty to Mr & Mrs Calvert Crary, where he lived in his youth. He and his wife, the former Frances Bradley, did extensive traveling in the United States and Europe between his associations with various business ventures.”

Thomas wrote the letter to George Young (1843-1909), the son of Edward Young (1810-1871) and Ann Eliza Hasbrouck (1807-1847) of Liberty, with whose family he was boarding at the time of the 1860 US Census. George Young enlisted on April 1861, at the age of 17 (service records say 23!), to serve two years as a private in Co. H, 28th New York Infantry. He was mustered into the service on 22 May 1861 and was discharged only three months later by civil authority, at Darnestown, Maryland. A “discharge by civil authority” often implies that an underage soldier enlisted without his parent’s consent. George later made a career of manufacturing paper in Wawarsing, Ulster county, New York.

The letter was written in two parts—the first part on 20 July and the second part on 25 July 1861, or, in other words, before and after the First Battle of Bull Run. At the time, the 28th New York Volunteers were under the command of General Robert Patterson in the Shenandoah Valley.


10 o’clock P. M.
Parksville [P. O., Sullivan county, New York]
July 20th [1861]

Friend George,

I received a letter from you a few days ago (no date to it) wrote at Williamsport & now see a number of letters that you have wrote since. They all come welcome & not a man in  the crowd will leave till they hear them read. It is truly exciting times. There is nothing new of any importance transpired since you left. All things move on as before—only it is so thundering lonesome around here & it grows worse instead of better. Nothing exciting going on—only the war news & once in awhile we crate a man. Last Saturday, Divine Moore ¹ come up here from Grahamsville, brother of Col. Moore that lives in Rockland, & commenced talking secession & they put him under the crate & held a flag over him and kept him under for nearly ½ hour trying to make him cheer the flag. He finally said he was a Union man but damned if he would cheer the flag in that position. They finally let him out & then rotten egged him out of town & if he don’t look out how he talks around here, he will get served in the same way for the folks are getting their ideas worked up.

I see you have not got the box of eatables yet that was sent by Express to Washington marked G. Young, Camp Harris, ² Co. H, Care of Capt. [John] Waller in 28th Regiment N. Y. S. V. & the express charges payable on it to Washington. It contained eatables & drinkables all put up in good order & labeled where they come from &c. with directions for use. You would doubtless find it very amusing as well as useful but according to your act of scouting around the country & getting things from young women & them that is slightly dark colored (I don’t mean wenches), you are doing well enough.

I would like to be with you for a spell but would like to come home after a spell, I think—especially after I had fared a few days on the kind of bread you sent me a couple of.

July 25th

The other sheet was wrote last Sunday & I throwed it in the desk & have not got hold of it till now. We have just received news of the Battle of Bulls Run & defeat of the Federal forces & their retreat to Washington. It must have been an awful time. Great indignation is expressed at Gen. [Robert] Patterson in not being on hand to reinforce Gen. [Irvin] McDowell & in letting Johnston reach Manassas.

We do not know where you are. Some accounts say at Martinsburg & some say at Harpers Ferry. We have not heard from you now in some time.

You say you never received no letters. There was two lots sent to you. I received a letter last night from Sarah P. Brown with one enclosed to be directed to you which I send on today. Your folks are busy in the ___y field and getting along finely. Help is plenty & cheap & times are hard. Noah Bower has just been here to see if we had heard anything of Palmer. He said he had heard that Col. had got a letter from you stating that he was dead. He went from here feeling better than he did.

Dr. Peet is hugely pleased about the defeat at Bulls Run. He will get himself in trouble if he don’t look out how he performs.

Well, Will has gone to New York to do something about raising a regiment in this & O[range] Co. to be called the 10th Legion. ³

Your folks are all well. Your grandmother Hasbrouck is here.

Yours &c., — Thomas Crary

Col. says behave yourself & take care of yourself & not volunteer to go on those little scouting expeditions as they are dangerous.

¹ Divine Moore (1819-1892) of Neversink—a member of the Reformed Dutch Church of Grahamsville— was a 42 year-old bachelor farmer at the time of this episode. He did not mary Abigail A. Lowe (1825-1882) until February 1865.

² The 28th New York Infantry arrived in Washington that evening and camped a mile north of the city on New York Avenue. The camp was named in honor of Senator Harris of New York State.

³ The 56th New York Infantry (a. k. a., Tenth Legion) was recruited by Col. Charles H. Van Wyck, received its numerical designation and was organized October 15, 1861, at Newburgh, and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years October 28, 1861. It consisted of eleven companies, and with it were also recruited two light batteries and two troops of cavalry, the whole being known as the 10th Legion. The light batteries became the 7th and 8th Independent Batteries, and the two troops of cavalry were assigned to the 1st Mounted Rifles. The eleventh company, L, of the regiment was also known as the 5th Company, New York Sharpshooters, and 10th Legion Sharpshooter’s. On the expiration of the term of its service, the men entitled thereto were discharged, and the regiment retained in service. The companies were recruited principally: A, B, C, D and E at Newburgh; F at Liberty; G at Ellenville; Hand L at Callicoon Depot; I and K at Monticello; and the men came from the counties of Orange, Sullivan and Ulster.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Devin Marks says:

    Thanks ever so much for your work preserving these letters! I’ve just happened upon your site and the letter from THOMAS CRARY (my great-great grandfather).

    What’s fun is that as I type, I’m preparing to read a letter from him dated 1902 to his son, during one his European travels. (It is a morning ritual we’ve enjoyed together this cv19 summer.) While I don’t have them with me, I’ve a trove of letters, photos and business history tied to his life. If you want a portrait or whatnot, don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Incidentally, in reading some 100 letters or so, I’m struck by how conversational tone. “Father Crary” as we refer to him was more naturally business and detail-minded in correspondence–even to family. So this letter is doubly-treasured. And I’ll be sharing it with his granddaughter (now 98 years of age and sharp as a tack) later today!

    If I’m not mistaken, GEORGE YOUNG later married one of the Crary sisters. I’m in regular contact with one of their descendants. Happy to connect you.

    And again, thank you so very much for your preservation AND digital sharing.



    1. Griff says:

      Glad you found the letters and that they were meaningful to you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s