1st D.C. Cavalry – James S. Gray of Co. K Writes from “Camp at Bermuda Hundred May 24th, 1864” – Speaking of their Henry Rifles, “The Rebs hate us like the devils, for we can play the devil upon them with our fifteen shooters.”
Letters from the 1st D.C. Cavalry are especially desirable. 8 Companies were organized in Augusta, Maine and Washington, D.C. during the latter part of 1863. Their Commander was Col. L. C. Baker who used his troops in important “investigations” in D.C. until May 1864. At this time half of the regiment was ordered to Portsmouth, Virginia and the other half to a raid on Petersburg.
James S. Gray enlisted on June 1st, 1863 in Washington, D.C. and became part of Company K. Our letter finds Gray writing home to his “Dear Parents, Brothers and Sisters”.
• I now sit down and under a laurel bush to pen you a few lines to let you know that I am quite well now, although I am kind of weak. I hope that these few lines will find you all smart. I have not got my letters from you for almost a fort-night, and we get a mail every day and have a mail leave every day so that letters come and go regular.
• We expect to get our horses (They had been dismounted for a short time)before we leave here. We are within 8 miles of Fort Darling and eighteen miles of Richmond.
• We left Portsmouth last Sunday morning about half past seven and got to Harrison’s Landing the next morning about eight o’clock. We are camped in the woods. It is a very nice place. I can tell you it is very warm down. We have got down with the rest of the old Companies and we have a good time.
• I wish that some of the boys was out here with us, but when they come to take out the four hundred thousand, it will fetch some of the fireside patriots, and I hope it will for some of them have blowed enough to come out and face the music, and if they have to, I shan’t pity them a damned bit.
• Last night they was a fighting all night out about four miles from us. We could (hear) the musketry quite plain and the artillery that roared by spells all night long.
• Today the story that old Cutler attacked the Rebels in their rifle pits and that he could not drive them out, we lost eight men killed and fourteen wounded. We do not get much news out here for papers are twenty-five cents a copy. Cheese is fifty cents per pound, butter is seventy-five cts. per pound, and tobacco is three dollars per pound.
• Company F got as much tobacco as they wanted to fetch in, and they given enough to last us quite a spell. I happened to get myself well stocked (with) paper before we left Washington, for I got a quire and a half of paper, and fifty envelopes and a dollar’s worth of postage stamps, so that I can write just when and where I please.
• I would like to have you write as often as you can, for after we get our horses, I shall have as much as I can do for a spell to take care of our horses and especially after we have been out on a raid. We shall have to work like the devil to get our horses looking fit to be seen.
• The old Companies was out on a seven days’ raid. They tore up railroad tracks and burnt bridges and storehouses and had a skirmish with the Rebels every day, and they run down their own horses and captured others from the Rebels, and some came in on mules and some on horses.
• The Rebs hate us like the devils, for we can play the devil upon them with our fifteen shooters. The old Companies fire one round upon the Rebs, and then they advance upon them, thinking that their pieces was empty, but they found out their mistake before they got a great ways, for our boys rose up and poured into them so fast that they was glad to turn and run as fast as their horses could carry them.
• As I can’t think of anything more to write, I shall have to bid you goodbye for the present. Direct to James S. Gray, Co. K 1st D. C. Cavalry, Washington, D. C. and I shall get them. Clinton Whitney is smart. From your son, Jas. S. Gray
The letter is 4 pages in nice dark ink. Several great lines about their Henry’s.
#L755DC – Price $295