The Chaplain of the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry, Henry Wheeler Sends Home Two Souvenirs to his Wife: A Confederate Envelope & Letter Sheet Taken at Occoquan, Va. + A Nice Letter to her
Henry A. Wheeler enlisted on November 21st, 1862 as a Chaplain in the 17th Penn. Cavalry. The letter to his wife is headed, “Camp near Stafford C. H., Va. Dec. 24, 1862”. It includes the original envelope: “Mrs. Mary S. Wheeler Waymart, Wayne Co., Pa.” On the left side of the envelope the Chaplain has written: “Soldiers Letter H. Wheeler Chaplain 17 Pa. Cav.” Interestingly in the letter he mentions to his wife that he had about 500 letters that he had to docket because the soldiers had no stamps! Here is the content:
- My Dear Wife, how bad I want to see you and Minnie, but I cannot now, but I want to hear from you. Since we left Washington, we have had but two mails. The first brought me your letter. The other came this morning but brought me no letter from home. I got one from Joe, but it gave me but little satisfaction. I would give more for a letter from my Mary than for a bushel from any person living.
- This mail will leave tomorrow early, and we shall receive one in about two days after. Then I expect one from you. If disappointed it will make me homesick.
- I have received but one from you since I started from home. I will write to you every mail that leaves. You must answer every letter if it be but briefly.
- The last time I wrote we were at Occoquan. We left there on Sunday morning and came to Dumfries. WE SAW WHERE THE REBELS HAD HAD THEIR PICKET FIRES, ONLY A SHORT TIME BEFORE. WE FOUND ON THE WAY THE REMAINS OF LARGE FIRES WHERE THE REBELS HAD BURNT THE GOODS AND WAGONS WHICH THEY CAPTURED AT OCCOQUAN CREEK. THEY BURNT THEM BECAUSE WE WERE SO CLOSE TO THEM, THEY COULD NOT CARRY THEM ALL AWAY.
- THE ENVELOPE IN WHICH I SEND THIS LETTER IS ONE OF A NUMBER WHICH I FOUND AT THE PLACE THEY BURNED THE GOODS.
- We got to Dumfries about 3 o’clock and encamped for the night. Next morning, we started for Stafford Court House, about 14 miles. We very soon got within our line of picket belonging to Burnside’s Army and were all safe from the enemy. Nobody was hurt.
- We now belong to Sixth Corps and will be likely to stay here until his Corps moves, maybe all winter. We are 8 miles from Fredericksburg. I like it here very well.
- The country is poor, very few inhabitants. No cattle scarcely and but little of anything for men or heart but what is brought here from Washington. I like it merely because we have a good camp and I have good quarters.
- Some few weeks ago, some soldiers encamped here and built log huts and then left in a few days. I have one of the best of these. It is about 8 by 14 feet. Bedstead made of poles, tick filled with hay, and plenty of bed cloth. Have a large old fashioned fire place and plenty of wood to burn. Have a small table, some benches and have a better place to live in than I have had since I have been in the Army. I would be willing to stay here all winter.
- Tonight I want to write to the Honesdale Democrat and the Northern. Give my love to all my friends. Write very soon and very often. My health is very good. Have not been sick an hour.
- CHRISTMAS DAY TOMORROW. SHALL TRY TO PREACH. WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR.
- Wish I could go to Binghamton with you to visit with Dixie. You go if you think best. I will borrow some money and send you, if you can’t get it just as well there. Tell me what you think about it. Kiss Minnie for Papa. Accept my best love and be assured. Let others be unfaithful to their wives (and I see men who are). I am and ever will be your faithful and devoted husband. H. Wheeler
- WRITTEN ON HIS “CAPTURED” PIECE OF STATIONERY: It is just dark. Our band is playing. My fire is blazing. Rass is cooking supper. Everything is pleasant, but I want you. I think I have taken in some 5 hundred letters this afternoon and must write my name on nearly half yet tonight because they have no stamps. I took up this paper (which I captured from the Rebels) to say good night to you. May His arm protect you. Good night. Henry. The envelope got wet and won’t stick so I put another outside.
- Top of front page: I have no stamp. Cannot get one for love or money until the mail gets here. Direct to Washington as before but be sure to name the Regt.
On the “captured” envelope that he encloses:
“Envelope taken from the Rebel Camp on Pickett Station near Occoquan, Va. Dec. 22, 1862. H. W.”
Condition of all pieces is fine. A nice Chaplain letter and souvenirs.
#L12-24-62PA – Price $350