6th Connecticut Infantry – Halsey Bartlett’s Last Letter Home + His Mother’s Last Letter to Him that He Never Got a Chance to Read + the Notification Letter to the Mother
Halsey Bartlett, a resident of Killingly, CT. enlisted on August 21st, 1861 into Company A of the 6th Connecticut Infantry. He reenlisted on December 24th, 1863. 6 months later he was killed June 17th, 1864 at Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1) Halsey’s letter is addressed to his sister, Christie, who lived at home with his mother. It is 4 pages in ink. It is dated one week before he was killed. Here is the content:
• Bermuda Hundred, Virginia, Sixth Reg. Co. A, Conn Vol. June 10 /64. Dear Sister, This morning I was made glad by hearing from home. Yes! Dear Sister, I got a letter from you and how much joy it gave me in reading a letter with Christie signed to the end of the writing. The name so familiar sounds sweet to me.
• Ah, if you only knew how much I think of you and mother while here and wish I could but for a moment gaze on your features, you would not think that you are forgot by me. No. I cannot forget the one whom I love with all the love a brother can have.
• Oh, how I wish I could see thee and there is another on whom my thoughts are centered. You know without my telling BUT WE, I HOPE, MAY ALL BE SPARED TO MEET AGAIN.
• But had I not in thinking of all, my dear friends at home think of Him who ruleth all. Him who has through His tender mercies spared me through all the hardships of this campaign! Yes, dear sister, I do think of Him. He has been a friend to me and not a night passes over my head but what my thought arise to Him in humble prayer, and you too are remembered while in devotion to our Maker.
• I need not ask you to think of me while in prayer, for I know that you do for you say so in your letter. NOW DEAR SISTER, LET US BOTH SO LIVE THROUGH THE JOURNEY OF LIFE THAT WHEN WE ARE CALLED FROM THIS TENEMENT OF CLAY, WE CAN MEET EACH OTHER IN THAT HAPPY LAND.
• How good you are, what good letters you write. Sometimes I think no one has so good a sister as I have, but I suppose every brother thinks the same. Well, Christie, I am very tired. My hand trembles some.
• I am so tired for we have had a very hard time of it since I came here, BUT THERE ARE, I HOPE, BETTER TIMES LAID UP IN STORE FOR ME.
• How I would love to be at home to enjoy one Sabbath and to hear one good sermon. Our Chaplain has resigned you know, and we have none, so we don’t have any meetings here now to go to. He was a very good man. He, you know, was an Episcopal. He used to come about distributing Religious papers and tracts, but we get but a few of these now. We miss him from our midst.
• I am sorry you did not have a very good time at C. S. Sing. I presume if Louis Wheeler had been there, you could have enjoyed it much better. I can but think you and Louis corresponding with each other will terminate in something else yet, but friendship. Louis is a good fellow, and I don’t care if it does when you write him. Give my respects to him. Am very glad you are getting along so nicely. You are making more money than I am. I hope you can lay by some for a rainy day. I don’t see Tommy Stevenson very often, but think he is well. Have seen him a number of times. He appeared well enough. I guess he is a pretty steady fellow now. I don’t know whether he has experienced religion or not. Jeffrey is washing. He is well. Benj Adams is well and in good health. All the boys are well, but rather tired out.
• Our Col. has resigned and is going home. Since I wrote home last, there has been one more of Co. A. boys wounded. Corporal Almond Bosworth was wounded by a piece of shell in the leg below the knee. You know he was wounded in the charge on Wagner July 18. Now he is wounded again. He was taken to the hospital. He had but three months more before his time was out, but he will do no more service in the Army.
• OUR LOSS YESTERDAY IN THE WHOLE WAS FIVE KILLED, TWENTY OR THIRTY WOUNDED. OH, THIS CRUEL WAR.
• I got all the letters that was directed to Washington to me. Was glad to get them. Do you hear anything more from Dwight? I have wrote mother about our journey yesterday. You must get very tired working so much, but I would be sorry to have you make yourself sick in working so hard. I must draw to a close. My love to Elizabeth. Love to Uncle and Aunts on the hill. Love to cousin Ellen. I had a letter from her today. You tell her to write often.
• If they don’t pay us off pretty soon, I shall run ashore for paper. I am a good mind to have a box sent of a few things, but I don’t know as they will bring it now. The Army is in motion. I hear that we are to be relieved by 17 Conn. Reg., and we are to go to St. Augustine, Georgia, but this is only a rumor. Please excuse this rambling letter and believe me ever Your Loving Brother Halsey. Write again soon. A kiss to you and lot of love to you and mother.
Obviously some very touching lines about seeing his sister in heaven.
2) The next letter was written by Halsey’s mother who writes him from Killingly, CT. on June 16th and 17th, 1864. He would die at the battle of Bermuda Hundred on June 17th, the very day she is writing him, so he never had the opportunity of reading these lines:
• My very dear son Halsey, We were made glad yesterday by receiving some letters from you to hear that you were well, but so tired. How I do pity you, but you do not complain for that is not your nature, and it is of no use to either, but the poor soldier has to fare hard and IF YOU CAN BE SPARED TO COME HOME TO US, YOU WILL HAVE A STORY TO TELL THAT WILL BE WORTH LISTENING TO.
• It is now nine o’clock and I am very tired having drawn in six wraps today which comes to 114 cents [That’s 19 cents per wrap, was she ironing or sewing? What do you think?], and came out and got my supper and ironed, and thought Chris was going to write, but she is so tired she has gone to bed.
• It is remarkable how my health holds out. Day after tomorrow I shall be 58 years old, and I work hard every day and am well and were it not for this war, it seems I might take some comfort, but as it is there is not much comfort to be taken by me.
• I FEEL ANXIOUS ABOUT YOU ALL THE TIME, AND STILL I DO TRY TO TRUST YOU IN THE HANDS OF GOD. HE IS ABLE TO PRESERVE YOU AS HE HAS DONE IN THE GREATEST DANGER.
• I do hope and pray He will and give you health. I am glad you are thinking of your soul’s best interests for that is of more importance than the poor body. DON’T REST YOUR HOPE ON NONE BUT CHRIST. He is willing to forgive all who will give up all for Him. I HOPE YOU WILL HAVE PEACE IN HIM.
• James Payne and Robert Scroyer came in the 5 o’clock train. Yes, and Henry Kent. James’ jaws were all muffled up, is badly wounded. Scroyer had one finger shot off and something ailed his arm. Mrs. Davis said I was in the mill and did not see him, and what ails Kent I don’t know. They got furloughs from New Haven. They are in the Hospital there. They were wounded 16 May, that fight in the fog Monday morning. I guess you recollect it.
• What a time you did have going to Petersburg. I hope you will hold out and be well. I hope Richmond will be in our hands before long. The paper says today Grant’s whole Army have gone to Bermuda Hundred and is going to take Richmond on the south side. I hope and trust he will succeed. Well, dear Halsey, it is too bad you are out of money. I will send you five dollars so you can get you some paper and envelopes and buy you a mouthful of something to eat. I WOULD SEND YOU A BOX BUT PERHAPS YOU WOULD BE SOMEWHERE ELSE WHEN IT GOT THERE.
• I thought St. Augustine was in Florida. Then you would like to go there. Is it not hotter there? I must close soon. Do write as often as you can. I know you will. We hear no more from Dwight. I wish you would write him. You remember his address. North Sanguan, Navertta County. Now be a good boy and may God keep you and bless you, my dear son. I will write often. I do, don’t I? Keep up good spirits. THERE IS A BETTER TIME COMING. From your affectionate mother Christine S. Bartlett. A whole lot of love to you. My regards to Earl. Write to Nancy.
• June 17th/1864. All well except tired. Hope you are well but tired you must be. You are a dear good boy to tell me to use your money. I am so thankful I can earn so much for now. I can save your money for you. If there is anything I can do for you, I want to do it. I am afraid you don’t have enough to eat. Buy you something if you can. Five dollars won’t go far, I know, but I dare not send more at a time. If you want more, tell me. I want you to have things comfortable as you can. I must close. MAY GOD PRESERVE YOU AND BLESS YOU. FROM YOUR DEAR MOTHER, CHRISTINE S. BARTLETT
3) The third letter is from Halsey’s company Lieutenant. It reads:
• Camp 6th Regt. Conn. Vols. Bermuda Hundred, Va. June 21, 1864. Dear Madam, It is with regret that I seat myself to transmit enclosed the few papers belonging to your loved son, Halsey, whom we all respected both for his good soldierly qualities and a character which was unblemished by a dishonorable act.
• At the time of his death, I wrote to his sister, not knowing your name, but since I have been able to learn it and address these few lines which may be a consoling item to your excessive grief.
• ENCLOSED YOU WILL FIND SOME LETTERS WHICH HAVE BEEN RECEIVED SINCE HIS DEATH. His effects, I will send to you as soon as these active operations will allow. I am in hopes that a week at the most may find his effects on their way to you. I have enclosed some photograph which were on his person at the time.
• With deep regret for the loss of a good soldier and a more valuable friend. I with grief mingles much loss with yours which is far paramount and subscribe myself. Yours to Command, Hiram L. Grant 1st Lieut. Comdg. Co. A. 6th Regt. Conn. Vol.
3 very touching letters that tell the sad story of how horrible war is. May we like Halsey place our trust in Christ as that is the most important thing… knowing that heaven is our future home.
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