1862-65: Martin VanBuren Culver Letters


Orlando E. Snow showing the uniform of the 16th Connecticut

This collection of letters were written by Martin VanBuren Culver (1833-1907), the 29 year-old unmarried son of Martin Culver (1798-1867) — a stone cutter in the Portland Quarry — and Lucy P. Bailey (1803-1894). Martin served in Co. A. 16th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. He wrote the letter to his sister Harriet (“Hattie”) E. Culver (1847-1913) in Portland, Connecticut. Martin gave “carpenter” as his occupation when he enlisted in August 1862. In the 1860 Census, he was enumerated in the household of Roswell R. Robbins in Rocky Hill.

The 16th Connecticut was formed in Hartford County, Connecticut, in July and August 1862. It was mustered into service August 24, 1862 and became part of Mr. Lincoln’s Army of the Potomac. Three weeks later the regiment first saw action in John Otto’s 40-acre cornfield at the Battle of Antietam, Maryland as part of Burnside’s Ninth Army Corps. Having loaded muskets for the first time only the day before the battle, the regiment suffered significant casualties at Antietam. It next saw action at Fredericksburg, Virginia in December 1862, then at the Siege of Suffolk, Virginia in April/May 1863.

In 1864, the 16th Connecticut was part of the Union garrison at Plymouth, North Carolina, and vigorously defended Plymouth against a Confederate combined land and naval attack April 17-20, 1864 led by General Robert F. Hoke, C.S.A. Outnumbered more than 5 to 1, with no means of escape or opportunity for reinforcements, the Union garrison at Plymouth was surrendered on April 20, 1864 by Brigadier General Henry W. Wessells. Culver and the other members of his unit who surrendered were taken to Andersonville Prison. Culver’s prison record there states simply: “Survived.”

There is one letter in the collection written by Charles H Taylor of Co. F,  15th Connecticut Regiment on Sept 27th 1863. All of the letters were addressed to Martin’s sister, Hattie E Culver.


Leslie J. Gordon’s book on the 16th Connecticut

See: A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut’s Civil War

“A Broken Regiment recounts the tragic history of one of the Civil War’s most ill-fated Union military units. Organized in the late summer of 1862, the 16th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was unprepared for battle a month later, when it entered the fight at Antietam. The results were catastrophic: nearly a quarter of the men were killed or wounded, and Connecticut’s 16th panicked and fled the field. In the years that followed, the regiment participated in minor skirmishes before surrendering en masse in North Carolina in 1864. Most of its members spent months in southern prison camps, including the notorious Andersonville stockade, where disease and starvation took the lives of over one hundred members of the unit.

The struggles of the 16th led survivors to reflect on the true nature of their military experience during and after the war, and questions of cowardice and courage, patriotism and purpose, were often foremost in their thoughts. Over time, competing stories emerged of who they were, why they endured what they did, and how they should be remembered. By the end of the century, their collective recollections reshaped this troubling and traumatic past, and the “unfortunate regiment” emerged as “The Brave Sixteenth,” their individual memories and accounts altered to fit the more heroic contours of the Union victory.” — Leslie J. Gordon

In his book, Gorden frequently makes reference to “colorful” letters that Martin Culver wrote his brother Jonathan. His footnotes say these letters are in a private collection.

Pleasant Valley, [Leesboro] Maryland
September 10th 1862

Dear Sister and friends,

I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I got your letter the 16th and was glad to hear from you. I have got most over my sold and feel first rate now. We are drilling every day 5 hours. It is not as cold as it was the last time I wrote. It [is] very pleasant here now. The mornings are very foggy so you can’t see a road.

I should like to be out of the hearing of music for one day and see if I could not hear myself think. We have got about 50 bands of different kinds all around us and they are a thrashing all the time. But that is not all. There has been heavy firing on our right center all this forenoon in the direction of Harper’s Ferry. I have not found out what forces have been engaged but I think it is part of Maeclenans [McClellan’s]. We are very strong here. We don’t know as we have got to move at present. I think that we shall not stay here much longer in this place but we may. You can’t find out anything here.

You say that Henry wants to borrow the money that I left at home. I should as soon put it in the bank and then if I come home I can get it when I am a mind to. If you have not put it in the bank, you may save some 20 dollars or so in the house so if I should be sick and want to get home, I could send and get it to help myself with. When I get paid off, I will send some home and then you can put it in when you are a mind to. I suppose that Jon will wear out all my clothes but let him have what you do not want. If there is any.

I will send home a paper today. Writing paper is very scarce here and very high. Envelopes are 25 cents a dozen. Paper you can’t get at any price and stamps are most gone here. This is the last one I have got. The chaplain writes on the letters and you will have to pay when they get there if there don’t some stamps come.

Everything is very high here — bread 50 cents a loaf for ones like yours that you make. Apples 60 cents a peck, tobacco 50 cents a hand, paper 15 cents a paper. There was a barrel of cider here yesterday but they don’t ask anything $12 dollars a barrel and sold quick at that.

I see Joel Smith ¹ here yesterday. He was well and in good spirits. I see some of the boys every day. There is no news here. It is the same as ever. I have not seen Dan Hop nor heard from him lately. Some of my letters will  be postmarked Hartford, some may be at other places for I get a chance to send hem sometimes by Connecticut men that come out to see their friends.

I can’t write anymore at present for we have got to go and drill. Write as soon as you can. Give my respects to all the folks.

From your Brother, — M. Culver

¹ Probably Joel P. Smith of the 14th Connecticut Infantry.

Maryland Camp near Harpers Ferry
[probably early October 1862]

Dear Sister and family,

There is a man here from Wethersfield and I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am very well and hope that you are all the same. We are encamped about 5 miles from the ferry and one mile from the river. It is a very good place here. The weather is very warm here in the middle of the day and cold in the morning.

There is a good many sick with the diarrhea but not very bad. We have not had a rainy day since we left Hartford. It is some such country here as it is in Connecticut. The land is not as good. There is about as many rocks as there is to home.

I saw the Reverand G. W. J. Rankin ¹ here yesterday. I don’t know how long he is a going to stay. He is not in our camp. I don’t know when he is agoing home. Dan Hopkins ² is in the hospital. He is lame a little. Frank Peck ³ saw him yesterday. Si and Peck tent together. We stay very comfortable here now. When we get into winter quarters — if we ever do — and get some large tents and a stove, we can go it first rate.


Brig. Gen. Isaac P. Rodman

I should like to come home and eat one meal. It would taste good to me. They say that the 22nd is on it way here but I don’t know as it is coming into this division. We are in Burnside’s 9th Army Corps under Brig. General [Isaac P.] Rodman. He was wounded in the Battle of Sharpsburg and our Colonel [Frank] Beach takes his place for awhile. There has been a good many promotions in the regiment since the battle and there is to be some more. There is no news to write here now as I know of.

I got a letter from [brother] Jon the other day. I wrote to him if Father wanted to get my chest of tools that he could get them and all my clothes and take them home and keep them. But I should rather you or mother would go after them if you could and whatever it costs I will send home the money to you. If I am alive and well, I shall send home all of my money when I get paid off — all but a little. I have got some now but if I should not feel very well, I can get something to eat a little better for there is a sutler here with the regiment but he charges so high that you would want a farm to get anything off him. Butter is $1.00 per pound, cheese 30 cents, sugar 25 cents, and all the rest of his in proportion.

If we move, I will let you know. Write as often as you can. Tell Mother to write and all of the rest of the folks. Give my respects to all and my love to yourself.

From your brother, — M. Culver

¹ Rev. Samuel G. W. J. Rankin (1822-1897) was a native of Ripley, Ohio, who graduated from the Lane Theological Seminary in 1845 and served a congregation in Portland, Connecticut during the Civil War. Rev. Rankin was married to Dolly Goodrich (1823-1892).

² Daniel R. Hopkins (1836-1923) was a native of Glastonbury, Hartford County, Connecticut. He was a resident of Rocky Hill when he enlisted in Co. A, 16th Connecticut in 1862. He was discharged for disability on 31 January 1865.

³ Franklin G. Peck was a resident of Rocky Hill when he  enlisted in Co. A, 16th Connecticut Infantry in August 1862. He among those members of the 16th Connecticut captured at Plymouth, North Carolina, in April 1864. He was paroled in February 1865 and transferred out in June 1865. 

Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.
November 27, 1862

Dear Sister,

Being that this is Thanksgiving and that I was on guard last night rather  I don’t have much to do today, I thought that I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I have got most over my cold and if I can keep from getting more, I shall get along. There is plenty sick here. A good many in the 21st [Connecticut] and some have died. I don’t know how long we shall lay here but there don’t seem to be any move at present. But still we may move tomorrow.

It is very pleasant here today — the best day that we have had since we have been here. You have got a cousin here in the 11th [Connecticut] regiment. I saw him this morning and he gave me a drawing of tea for my breakfast. He told me his name but I have most forgotten, but I think it is Alonzo, but I won’t be sure. He is a very good looking chap. Red hair and appears to be a very fine fellow. His father lived in Chester but has moved to Rocky Hill. Lately he had a brother killed in the Battle of Antietam.

It is cold here. We have to wear our overcoats most all the time. We have got a new colonel from the 8th [Connecticut]. His name is Upham. He is only acting in place of Beach for he has gone home sick. I don’t think that he will get back this winter if the war lasts. We have all kinds of rumors here everyday but I don’t mind anything about them. They [say] that we shall be home by Christmas but I don’t want you to say so from me for I don’t think that. It is too good to be true. But I wish that it might be so for I have got sick of it and all the rest of the soldiers and I think that they have got sick both North and South. I think that it will be settled this winter but it may not be so.

I do not know as you get my letters lately for I don’t get any and the mail comes every other day. I have not had a letter for 3 or 4 weeks. I get your paper. I suppose that you are all at home today for Thanksgiving but me and if I could have my say, I should be there too. But perhaps I shall be there at Christmas or New Years. I hope so but I think that it is doubtful. But you can bet I shall be home as soon as I can.

This is a lonesome day to me for I am thinking of home today all the time. I am out of money, out of tobacco, and out of everything else. If you will send me some money and a pair of gloves, I can get along till we get paid off if I live long enough. If we don’t get paid till the first of January, they will owe me about 50 dollars bounty by the state and all and then I will send or fetch it myself if I am lucky enough to get through by that time.

For our Thanksgiving out her we have got for supper some salt horse and hard tack and coffee but we have not got anything to make it sweet with so that will have to be our supper for this time. But I hope that this the last one that I shall see out here. Tell Jon to write when you see him and send me some tobacco by mail and send me the gloves by mail as soon as you can for it is hard work to keep my hands warm handling my gun these cold mornings. Write as soon as you can.

From your brother, — M. Culver

I will write again soon.

Camp Hartford opposite Fredericksburg, Va.
January 15th 1863

Dear Sister,

As I have time this forenoon, I thought that I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well. We are here on the ground that the 21st left. They have gone away from us into the 3rd Brigade. I have not seen George or Frank since they left us. I shall see them as soon as I get time.

We have lived very well now for a few days for there was a man from Hartford that brought on boxes and the boys that I tent with had 2. We had chicken pie and roast beef. The Express company brings them through now. We have got a very good tent in dry weather but it rains almost as much as if we had no tent. It rains here today. It rained here all night last night. I had to get up and put our rubber blankets on to keep from floating off. We have got a fire place and chimney so we keep warm. It is not very cold here. The wind is blowing hard from the south.

The 8th got paid off yesterday. They say that we shall get another 2 months pay Saturday. If we do, I shall send some home and I want you to write and let me know as soon as you get it. I wrote to Jon to see if the Express would take a box and if they would, to get some money at home and get some things that I sent for — some tobacco of both kinds, smoking and chewing, for it good to keep off the smell when we have to clean up the camp. If the things don’t get started, tell Jon to send me a pair of souls for my boots and something to put them on with. They are pegged ones.

I don’t know how long we shall stay here but I think some time. There is no news here. Hatch is frying nut cakes now. I am a doing very well now. I weigh 176 lbs — fat and lazy as can be. I have got large whiskers. I have not shaved since I came from Hartford. There is a picture gallery here and if I get time after I get my money, I will let you know how I look.

I shall have to stop writing for I have not got anymore time now. I want to have the folks send me a box as soon as you can. Give respects to Mr. Tina [?] Buck and all the rest of the Bucks and everybody in the Buck town. Write as often as you can.

I will write again soon. From your Brother

Suffolk, Va.
March 18th 1863

Dear Sister,

I received your letter this morning and was very glad to hear from you. I have not been with the regiment since last Friday They started from Newport News Friday and I was left back to help load the baggage and have got up with them now.

We are close to the city — if you may call it a city. But the rest of the country I have not had time to look at only it is all woods as far as I can see. We are about 20 miles from the Black Water. We came on with the wagon train and had to march 20 miles. We came to Portsmouth on the boat. Wednesday noon we started on the march. We came on 12 miles, put up to a farm house for the night and this morning came on to the regiment. 12 miles of our march was through a swamp so that we could not see our way out. I do not know what the movement is without we are to strengthen the force here.

I wish that I was at home as much as you and I guess more. I don’t see why Melly does not write. I have written to her 4 or 5 times and I have not got but one answer. You say that you like her. You will like her better the more you see her.

There is not much news here to write that I know of. There is plenty of niggers here and all along through the country where we have been.

I should like to see Hat Smith first rate and I am in hopes that this war will end some time so that I can get out of the army. I don’t know how I should act to get into a house and sit down where there was anybody for I have not seen anybody for so long that I should not know what to do. I weigh now 187 lbs and look some different since I came away. I hope that I shall live long enough to get home again.

I had a letter from Tom and Angeline this morning and shall answer as soon as I get time. I shall have to stop writing for it is getting late. Give my respects to all [and] to Nelly when you see her. So goodbye for this time.

From your Brother

I will write you more next time. Send your picture as soon as you can.

Camp Hartford
Suffolk, Va.
April 9th [1863]

Dear Sister,


Gov. William A. Buckingham

I received your letter some days ago but have not had time to answer it till now for we have got new tents and have been busy putting them up and fitting our camp. I am well — all but a hard cold. They keep us busy all of the time most so we can’t get time to write. I hear that [William Alfred] Buckingham is Governor again. I thought that he would be for there are plenty of soldiers to home on furloughs that have stayed and voted and now will come back and it will be alright. I got the papers that you have sent along. They don’t stop any papers that are sent to us that I have heard of.

There is no news here to write. The 21st [Connecticut] has gone off somewhere to build a fort and I have not seen George or Frank for some time. I got your picture. It is a very good one. I can get one taken here and will send you one the next time I write. I should have sent it this time but I have got a cold sore on my nose. As soon as it it gets well, I will get one and send it home.

You say that you shall be a looking for me but you will have to look some time. I don’t know as I can come anyway for them that have gone have not come back till after their time had gone by for some time and it will stop the rest from going I am afraid. You said that you saw Emner Edwards. I want to know where she lives and whether she is married or not for I have forgotten. I have got some money that I am going to send home but I shall wait and see if we are ever going to get pay again or get our bounty checks. It comes due this month.

I shall have to stop for it is most time for me to go on guard. I will send you a picture next week, So goodbye for this time.

— From your Brother

Camp near Portsmouth [Virginia]
July 28th 1863

Dear Sister,

Charley Taylor [of the 15th Connecticut] brought me your letter today and I was very glad to hear from you. Your letter was written on the 13th. I don’t see where it has been so long. I don’t know whether we had been on our raid or not when I wrote to you before. If we had not, I will give you a description of it next time I write.

Our 4th of July was on a hard march and with the thermometer about 120. I never suffered so much in the 3 weeks that we were away from the camp.

I have not been out of my tent hardly for this week. I have got 3 or 4 of Job’s comforters [boils] on me and I have to keep pretty still. I managed to get to the river and get some oysters yesterday and some crab — they are like lobsters, and some of them most as large.

I hear that the First Brigade is going to South Carolina but I don’t know whether it is so or not. The rest of the boys are to work on forts and cutting timber.

You say that you will write to me when you write to Frank and George but I don’t want you to send anything to the 21st [Connecticut] for me for they are at Portsmouth and a good way from our camp and I can’t get there without a pass. I went down there last week. They are both well. I think that this war can not last a great while longer if our army is as prosperous as it has been for the last few months without some other nation interferes. If we get Charleston from them, which I think we will soon, it will hurt them very much. Some of our officers have gone home after drafted men to fill up our ranks. It will take some 6 or 7 hundred. I do not know when they are coming.

The weather is very hot here and will be for some time to come. It seems as if time went off very fast. We have been gone most a year. We have a thunder shower here most everyday. We had a hard one yesterday and have got one this morning. It is just commencing to rain. I don’t have nothing to do — only go up to the puke shop 3 times a day and get my dose of medicine. If I do not have any more boils, I shall get around next week. I shall have to stop so goodbye for this time. Write soon.

— Your Brother

Camp 16th Connecticut Vols. near Portsmouth, Va.
August 27th 1863

Dear Sister,

It has been some time since I got your last letter but we have been changing camps and I have not had time to write till now. We have moved about 3 miles from the old camp. We have got a very decent place, I guess. I don’t know yet for I have not been around. I don’t like the place so well as the old one for we [are] way away from other troops there. We are not very near now, but nearer than I wish we were.

It has rained here ever since we commenced to move and we [are] very wet to the skin. All day long. We have had news from Charleston this afternoon and there has been a salute fired at Fortress Monroe of 34 guns. I think that Charleston will soon be ours and that will be another heavy blow for the rebs if thing work well that this cruel war is about played out. I hope so anyway for I want to get out of the noise and confusion of camp life. You don’t know anything about it till you are where you can see it. There is no news to write about that I have heard.

I have got sores coming out on my face and hands. I suppose that my blood is out of order. The 15th [Connecticut] have moved above ours somewhere. I don’t know where but probably 2 or 3 miles away.

We are at work on forts the same as ever. Sweet potatoes begin to get ripe but they are very high. But we manage to get some once in awhile. I would not take anything for my shirts for they are just the things for this part of the country.

We have got very good quarters here. I don’t know how long we shall stay. We may stay a week, month, or 6 months. I can’t tell a thing about it. All that I want is to have them say pack up for home and I will be ready as soon as any of them.

I had a letter from John last week. He is out with Ranry yet. I had a letter from she that was Lib Taylor. Today her husband is drafted but I guess that he won’t come. Who is drafted in Portland [Connecticut]? I have not had any paper this two months from home so I don’t get the news from that way. If they send papers, they do not get here to me. It has been quite cold here for 2 or 3 days and seems like fall. I wish that we might get home this fall but I don’t suppose that we shall.

But it is time for roll call and I must stop. Give my respects to all the folks and I will bid you goodbye for this time. Write soon.

From your brother, — Martin Culver

South Mills, North Carolina
September 14th [1863]

Dear Sister,

I received your letter today and shall have a chance to send back tomorrow so I will write you a few lines. 5 companies of the regiment came here last week Wednesday. We are to stay 3 or 4 weeks. We are on picket and have to look out for bushwackers. It is about 30 miles from our cold camp. We are in Camden County on the Dismal Swamp Canal. You think that it is lonesome out our way at home but this is the most God forsaken country that I ever saw. It is all swamp and pine woods for hundreds of miles. There are all kinds of animals here — coons, wildcats, snakes, what we call at home red eyes. We don’t get a mail without some of our men come down and I shall be glad when we get out of it.

We have but 96 men — half of the regiment that are reported for duty. We have had two thunder showers. You don’t get any of the kind North. I had a letter from John a few days ago.

We have killed several hogs today. That is about all that we have to eat and will be till we get some more rations. But we shan’t starve as long as there is plenty of pork around loose. I should like to see Clark Edwards and some of them fellows out here and see how they would like it. We have 5 companies of cavalry here with ours. When we get back to camp, I will write again and let you know the news, if there is any. We should not know if the whole world was turned over as long as we stay here. You will see a piece in the Times about the 16th written by Horace Steel ¹ and it makes the shoulder straps very mad and I hear that they are a going to court marshal him but if they don’t look out sharp, they will see Torbel get with right. It was the truth — every word of it. But we have got to keep still till we get home and then they are no better than us.

But I must stop for it is getting late. If you send me a Times or Sentinel, put it into a [Hartford] Courant and then it will be sure to come. And now if I can get a stamp, I will send you this.

Direct as before, only leave off Washington D. C. and put on Norfolk, Va. and it will come one day sooner. And now I will bid you goodbye for the night.

From your brother — M. Culver

¹ Horace B. Steel served in Co. F, 16th Connecticut.


Camp Near Portsmouth, Virginia
September 27 [1863]

Dear Sister,

I received your letter yesterday and was very glad to hear from you again. We arrived at camp from North Carolina Tuesday night. It is cold nights here now but very pleasant days. Today is Sunday and it is the pleasantest day that I ever saw or it would be if i was at home for we have about as much to do Sundays as any day in the week. Today at 2 o’clock we have a review at or near the 15 Co about 3 miles from here. Our brigade are to be reviewed by [Brig.] General [Edward] Harland and staff. We are in the 18th Army Corps but it don’t make any difference about letters as long as we are in this part of the army — Norfolk or Washington D. C. will come just the same.


Martin enclosed this poem by John Rusty of Co. G, 16th Connecticut

Yesterday I put pockets in my overcoat and it took me most all day. We have got a brigade band but I have not heard it play yet nor don’t want to. I have heard enough of them. I hear that all of the sick and wounded around hear have been taken to New Haven. Albert Hatch ¹ — my old tent mate — has gone and Horace Warner of Rocky Hill. ² As soon as I hear from Hatch and he gets home, I am agoing to write and tell him to go out home and see the folks. He can tell you more news in one half hour than I can write in a week but I shall have to stop now and wash my white gloves and get ready for revew.

It is now Monday night. I have been out today at work on breastworks cutting and piling up logs as high as a man’s head. I went up to the 15th and saw Charley Taylor this noon. He is in the hospital. He has got the asthma so that he can hardly talk. There is no news here to write. I think that we shall move camp again before a great while. It seems to be the opinion that we shall stay around here this winter. If we do, I shall get me a small stove and try to keep warm. There was some frost here last night and I suppose that you have it at home every night. It is about Chestnut time and how I should like to be home to get some. But I don’t see how I can just now. There is no Chestnut trees around here. Nothing but Pine.

But I must stop for it is time for roll call so good night. From your brother, — M. Culver

I will send you a song that was made up by one of the boys about our sutler. His name is Merritt. He tells about driving the women. It is the ones that bring their stuff to sell to the boys and it has been stopped.

¹ Albert S. Hatch of Co. A, 16th Connecticut was wounded at Antietam. Later he was wounded again, resulting in the amputation of a finger on his left hand, during a skirmish with Confederates while on a reconnoissance across the Nansemond River on the Providence Church Road in May 1863. Two men were killed and eight wounded in Company A. He was discharged for disability in September 1864.

² Horace M. Warner, died Oct. 24, 1864, age 29 yrs., Company C., 16th Connecticut Volunteers, buried at Newburn, N. C., Civil War marker and flag.

Portsmouth [North Carolina]
September 27th 1863

Friend Hattie,

I wrote to you some time ago but have received no answer yet. Thinking you did not receive mine, I will write again hoping and trusting I shall hear from you in return. I have not seen Martin for some time until today. He came and see me today and took dinner with me. I was glad to see him for it seemed an age since I saw him last. He is about three miles from where I am.

Our Second Lieutenant [Henry B. Levi] died to day with diptheria. I have been very sick but am better now except my throat. That is very sore yet. There is a great many in the regiment with sore throat.

Our boys are having a pretty hard time now. They have to go out chopping and digging every day. Sundays they either have an inspection or review. Martin is troubled with a hard cold. I hope he will not be sick for it is a hard place to be sick in the army. We do not get a kind mother’s care here. But the officer’s wives have been very good to our boys. They come down every day and see them and bring down custards to them, It does the boys a deal of good. It seems to cheer them up in fact. They get well quicker where the women take care of them.

The chaplain’s wife is in every day to see them. She goes home tomorrow. The boys will miss her very much. I would like to have the chaplain go and see them if we could not get a better one. He is a poor fellow. The other day he came into the hospital so intoxicated he could hardly stand. I don’t think he is a fit man for chaplain. I think if we had a good Christian man for chaplain, we would have a large revival. The boys will not go to hear the chaplain preach but gather in crowds outside of the camp and there worship God. We have splendid meetings by ourselves. But I would like to be home and go to church. ¹

I heard Mr. Eaton was very sick. I was very sorry to hear it. May God guide us both in the path of righteousness and finally receive us into his heavenly kingdom is the prayer of your friend, — Charlie

Write soon please.

Direct [to] Charles H. Taylor, Hospital Department, [Co. F] 15th Regt. Ct., Portsmouth, Virginia

Best wishes to you and your Father & Mother. — C. H. Taylor


Rev. D. Henry Miller

¹ The chaplain of the 15th Connecticut at the time was Rev. Daniel Henry Miller (1827-1896) who resigned the position citing health reasons in November 1863 with the following parting words, “In much I may have failed to meet your expectations, yet I am confident you will ever esteem me as a man whose heart was in the ‘right place’ and whose sympathies were ever enlisted when needed and known for all without hesitation.” Miller was a pastor in Meriden, New Haven County, Connecticut, when he volunteered his services as chaplain. He was an 1845 graduate of Wesleyan Institute. His wife was Lucy Elizabeth (Latham) Miller (1816-1878).

Dec 14, 1863
Camp 16th Connecticut Volunteers
Portsmouth [Virginia]

Dear Sister [Hattie],

I received the things and letter by way of Taylor yesterday and was very glad to hear from you. The things were very good and the walnuts were the first that I have since I left home. I should like to be at home Christmas but I can’t and I don’t know when I shall come. We have had to draw cuts and I come the 9 man and if the furloughs are not stopped, I shall be home sometime this winter. I can’t tell at what time. I shall come as soon as I can, you can bet on that.

The weather is warm and pleasant. We had a very hard thunder shower last night and one today. We have got nice quarters and a good place. There is but a very few sick in the regiment now.

I am at work in my trade and have been for a long time and shall be for some time to come. ¹ Charley Taylor came up here last week. It is the first time that I have seen him for 2 months.

The 21st Regiment has left Norfolk and gone to Newport News and the 27th Massachusetts has taken their place. What brigade the 21st are in now, I do not know. If you see the Hartford Post you will see a piece from the 16th [Connecticut] every week. There is no news here. Everything is about the same as it has been for the last 6 months. I have got a stove in my house and get along first rate. If we can stay here in this department till my time is out it is all that I ask. There are a great many old troops that are enlisting over for three years and all of the unbleached Americans ² are enlisting very fast. That is what they call them now.

I want to get home and see how things look but I don’t believe that you would know me if you should meet me in the daytime for I am a great deal larger and blacker and everything else. You must write as often as you can and I will do the same and if anything happens I will let you know as soon as I can.

Col. [Francis C.] Beach is back here and is now acting Brigadier General so we shall fare pretty well I think. It is now roll call and I must stop, so good by for this time. Give my best respects to all the folks in Taylor town when you go down there. I hope that I shall get home before long [even] if i don’t stay but 3 days.

From your Brother — Martin V. Culver

¹ A house carpenter before the war, Culver wrote his brother of “hewing timber for houses for the shoulder straps” while encamped at Portsmouth. [Letter from Martin V. Culver to Jonathan Culver, 23 November 1863 — Footnote 145 in Gordon’s book.]

² Unbleached Americans is obviously referring to the colored troops.

New Bern, North Carolina
May 7th 1865

I received your letter the 2nd of the month but have been busy till today. I am at work in the carpenter shop now. There is not much to do here. The boys are on guard at the depot and have to go on the cars and boat to Fort Monroe, Washington, and other places to guard prisoners and other things. Civil law commences here the 16th of the month and then I suppose that we shall have to leave and I think that it will be for home when we do start.

There is an order to discharge all in hospitals and all at parole camp. We have got about 20 in camp and all that are at home on furloughs so I think that we have not got long to stay.

George Creighton ¹ that you wrote about was paroled the 11th of December and came to Camp Parole. He was very sick on the road and I think that he is dead. I cannot find out for certain. But it is the opinion of his company that he is dead.

I am in tent with Jeff Miller. ² We went through some sanitary boxes last night at the depot and got lots of stuff such as apple sauce, peach, blackberry, and all such kind of stuff, pants, shirts, drawers &c.

The weather is very hot here — as hot as you get it in July. There is no more fighting to be done and I think that we shall get away from here before it is very sickly. There was 66 of the 15th [Connecticut] died here last summer. There was one by the [name of] Henry Culver, aged 25. ³ Who he is, I do not know. I have just got a letter from parole camp and the boys that are there are not coming back. They have got an order to be discharged but I will stop and go up town to nigger meeting and so goodbye for this time.

From your brother, — Martin V. Culver

You did not put on the company and regiment on the other letter. You must for I shall not get them.

¹ George Creighton — a native of Scotland — served in Co. G, 16th Connecticut. He was a resident of Glastonbury when he enlisted in July 1862. He was wounded at Antietam and captured at Plymouth, North Carolina. He was paroled on 11 December 1864 but there is no further regimental record for him. Pension records indicate that George was paroled at Florence on or about the 11th December 1864 and that he was very sick at the time with chronic dysentery. He went on board a transport steamer at Charleston bound for Annapolis (Camp Parole) but died on or before its arrival on 25 December.

² Jeffrey Dwight Miller (1844-1916) was a resident of Avon when he enlisted in Co. A, 16th Connecticut in August 1862. He was captured at Plymouth, North Carolina in April 1864 and paroled 30 Novembver 1864. He mustered out in June 1865. He served with his older brother George Washington Miller (1837-1898).

³ The roster of the 15th Connecticut includes a Henry Culver (1839-1864) who served from July 1862 until his death on 4 October 1864. He was in Company B.  Henry was the son of Caleb and Nancy Culver of North Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut.




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