9th New York Cavalry Letter Describing Yorktown – Written by Ebenezer Buel – “THIS WAR IS BEING USED TO ELEVATE A FEW NAMES UPON THE SCALE OF DISTINCTION, & MORE PAINS IS TAKEN TO INSURE THIS THAN TO SECURE THE RETURN OF A SPEEDY SECESSION TO PEACE AND PROSPERITY.”
This 4-page letter in ink comes with its original stamped cover. Condition is very good except that there are several holes in the center of the letter which of course add character. We could transcribe it fine. The writer, Ebenezer Buel, enlisted at Westfield, New York in November 1861 as a Sergeant. Here is the content:
- Camp Winfield Scott Near Yorktown May 7th, 1862. Dear Wife, I have been hoping for the last three weeks in rain, for a letter at each daily arrival of the mail and have been so long accustomed to the disappointment, I hardly know which would disappoint me most, to find a letter for myself in the bag or look the pile through and find none for the Post Master as usual. But I suppose you have been hoping I would start homeward ere a letter would come back & it would be lost.
- This however has become so problematic. I hope you will not defer writing immediately after receiving this. I still hope we are to go home, but the issue here at York is so different from what most people expected. It may be made a pretext for keeping the officers of this Regiment in pay awhile longer. I have told our boys for the last ten days I expected Jeff (Davis). Who knows this man would let Mc (McClellan) putter away & spend as much time as he could induce him to do & exhaust the energies of his men at hard labor and deplete the National resource as deeply as possible & then, just as everything was ready for the blow like a flea beneath a war club, when it was about to hit the little animal, would not be “thar.”
- AND YET I SEE THERE IS A MAJORITY WHO ARE DETERMINED TO MAKE A HERO OF MCCLELLAN IN SPITE OF HIMSELF.
- LANDING THE POLICY THAT HAS GIVEN US YORKTOWN WITHOUT THE LOSS OF A MAN, BUT THESE FORGET THAT HE HAS ONLY GOT THE PLACE WHEN THE TIGER COUCHED, while the animal is still at large and unsubdued, and though no men were lost at the ditches…
- …THE RAMPARTS STILL THE MONTH BEFORE YORKTOWN HAS MADE ITS RECORD ON THE DEATH ROLLS WHICH WILL NEVER BE REPORTED TO THE WORLD IN TOTAL, AND THE BLANCHED CHEEK OF MANY A LINGERING SUFFERER SHALL TELL OF EXPOSURE TO THE MIASMAS (UNHEALTHY SMELLS) & STONES OF THE PENINSULA.
- I DO NOT WISH TO UNDER RATE TRUE MERIT, BUT AFTER SPENDING THE DAY YESTERDAY IN THE ENEMIES’ WORKS AT YORKTOWN AND ALONG THE LINES TO THE WORCESTER RIVER, I COULD BUT FEEL THAT WHILE MCCLELLAN HAS LOST HIS GAME BY STOPPING TO FORGE A HEAVY CABLE TO BIND HIM, HE MIGHT HAVE SECURELY HELD HIM IF HE HAD USED THE SMALL CHAIN HE ALREADY POSSESSED.
- AT YORKTOWN THE WORKS ARE HEAVY AND WOULD HAVE OFFERED A BARRIER HARD TO PASS BY THE ASSISTANCE OF ARTILLERY ALONE, BUT THE GUNBOATS IN THE RIVER COULD HAVE HANDLED THAT WHILE THE WORKS ON THE CENTER AND LEFT WOULD NOT HAVE SUSTAINED THE FIRE OF OUR RIFLED FIELD GUNS FOR A SINGLE DAY AT ANYTIME SINCE WE CAME ON HERE.
- All I see but the more fully convinces me that the event of THIS WAR IS BEING USED TO ELEVATE A FEW NAMES UPON THE SCALE OF DISTINCTION, & MORE PAINS IS TAKEN TO INSURE THIS THAN TO SECURE THE RETURN OF A SPEEDY SECESSION TO PEACE AND PROSPERITY.
- But some kind are alike in all ages and in all places & happy is the people who are so fortunate as in this day of trial to be led by truly great men. We have had one Washington who served his day & generation & has gone & it would hardly be expected we should the second time be the exception from the general rule and find a man for leader that so fully ignores all selfish aims in the promotion of the common good.
- You have no doubt read all the particulars of the affair since the evacuation, and it would not be interesting for you to read a recapitulation of them in my poor style.
- I SAW TWO POOR FELLOWS WHO WERE KILLED BY THE BURSTING OF A CONCEALED SHELL THE MORNING OUR FORCES OCCUPIED THE WORKS AT YORKTOWN. THEY WERE MOST HORRIBLY MANGLED. ONE HAD THE RIGHT LEG CARRIED OFF TO THE KNEE & THE RIGHT ARM TORN OFF AT THE SHOULDER & THE LEFT THIGH BADLY SHATTERED. THE OTHER ONE SEEMED TO BE WOUNDED ONLY IN THE HEAD, BUT IT WAS ALL TORN TO PIECES. THEY WERE BOTH MEN ABOUT 35 OR 40 YEARS OF AGE & OF IRISH DESCENT & CAME FROM THE CITY OF NEW YORK.
- The weather on Sunday was most unfortunate for advance movements, as it set in and rained all day and night and made the roads almost impassable & great difficulty arose from this service in moving the heavy artillery and baggage. It is pleasant now and the roads will soon be good again.
- The river is full of shipping and I’ll warrant the old dock at York has not been so full for many a day as it was yesterday. In my rambles, I got a number of little trinkets that I shall try to carry home if we go soon as reminiscences of the Rebellion. If I thought it would be long before we should be called out of the service, I should send my carpet bag with a lot of clothes & trinkets home by Express. I will wait a little now, however, and see what is to be the next move. If we march back to Fort Monroe, I will carry the carpet bag, but if we go forward I shall send it. You will find the keys to it and the trunk in the pockets of my overcoat, which I shall strap upon the outside of the bag.
- Steven has not come up from Hampton yet, tho I have expected his coming for somedays. I learn he has been quite sick, but if he goes home, I fear he will feel sicker. There are some other preachers in the Regt. who will hardly want to go home at present. They will need time for repentance and reform first.
- Do not give yourself any uneasy foreboding on account of my health. I am trying to be very careful in diet and habits, and so far feel pretty well. I take a few pills every morning to prevent effects of the climate.
- I hope to now this week what is to be the final issue with us, whether we go home or stay till the end of the war, and I sincerely hope in either event, it will not be a great while ere you will see me coming down the lane from the railroad, some day not far down on the calendar.
- As I was coming in from Headquarters Monday morning, I met Levi Hubbard, Edward Clark & Riley Hodges, who were in rear of their Regiments on the forward movement. Ed looks pretty slim yet. They informed me Ab Mills is dead. Capt. Fancher is better, and they hope for his recovery. Royal Mills is there taking care of him. Riley Kiarstead & Fry went on with the Regiment. Hunt is in command of the Company. I did not see Philo Saunders. Nelson is at Fort Monroe in the Hospital. Ed said he did not think Nelson very sick.
- I hope to get a letter soon for it is almost a month now since I have heard from you as your last is dated 9th inst. Direct to 9th N. Y. V. Cavalry, Washington as always before. Affectionately Your Eben
#L5-7-62 NY- Price $135