Though this soldier only signed his name as “Mark,” I’m convinced by the content of the letter that it was written by 37 year-old Mark P. Bartlett (1826-1885) of Co. D, 12th Vermont. The 12th Vermont was one of five 9-month regiments from Vermont mustered into the Federal Army after the disastrous defeat of McClellan’s army in the Peninsula Campaign. They were primarily used to bolster the defenses around Washington D.C.
Though many of the men in the 12th Vermont enlisted in August, they were not mustered in until 4 October, 1862. They were due to be mustered out on 4 July 1863 after nine months but the Gettysburg Campaign caused a delay until mid-July. The 12th and 15th Vermont were utilized in guarding the railroad lines during that campaign but the 13th, 14th, and 16th Vermont actually participated in the battle.
The particular regiment that Bartlett served in could be narrowed down to the 12th Vermont because he was careful to describe the regiment’s movements in May 1863 which distinguished it from the other 9-month regiments.
Pvt. Mark Bartlett was the son of Chauncey Bartlett (1788-1874) and Mehitable Curtis (1786-1871). Mark was married prior to the war to Cornelia M. Benjamin (1837-1860) but she died in January 1860. He was from Plainfield, Washington County, Vermont.
Bristoe Station, Virginia
May 19th 1863
I take this opportunity to answer yours which I received the 16th. I received the letter & box the same day. I have had so much to do that I could not write before. The box came all right and everything in it. I tell you, that sugar tin & crackers goes nice. I haven’t stewed any of the apple yet but am going to stew some & warm over some sugar after I finish this letter.
My health is about as good as ever now. We don’t stay long in a place now. Since I wrote my last, May 3rd, we have moved four times. We went from Warrenton Station to the Rappahannock River. We had to guard a bridge. The rebel pickets were on the other side of the river and ours on this side, but they were good, civil fellows and didn’t make us any trouble. But the cars came down and brought us back to the station yesterday. We are now about 20 miles from the Rappahannock. We have got back within five of Manassas Junction. This is a splendid country along this railroad. Grass in some of the fields is about a foot in height.
Tell mother not to believe all Fitch Watterman says about Joe Hooker’s taking Richmond for he has not been within 30 miles of that place. When Gen. Stoneman came back from his raid down that way, he crossed back where we ere. The boys loaded down their horses with the best of tobacco which they took from storehouses & on the way back they did an immense amount of damage to Jeff’s Kingdom.
Ho hum. About your going to school this summer, I cannot advise you but I would go sooner than think of working out. You ain’t strong enough so don’t think of that. And I think you would get tired going to school in hot weather. And you know if anyone should come to settle with you, you would want to be at home.
I suppose L. Cutts’ folks have got moved down there by this time. Give my love to sister Martha & all the rest likewise. How is Frank and Emeline getting along now? Does he go up there as often as ever? Tell Lutheri she is a good girl for sending those stockings. I will think of her every time I look at them. (won’t that pay her?)
What is William & his Frenchman doing? I suppose he has got the farm all plowed up by this time. Has he got any of the new ground cleared off yet? Has Clinton or Clara been into the house since I left home?
It is nine months day after tomorrow since I enlisted but not being mustered into the service immediately as we should have been, we expect to stay until the Fourth of July. But the Pennsylvania nine months men have gone home. I like here so well I think some of re-enlisting for the war after the nine months are out.
I received yours & mother’s of May 4th as week ago but thought I would not write until I got the box. Give my thanks to Demoline for those sugar cakes. They are real nice & nobody but a soldier knows how good any such thing tastes out here. I must close now so as to send it up today for I can hear the engine coming. You must all write for I write to all when I write. Goodbye. Write soon as convenient.
Yours with much love, — Mark
Orrin ¹ has got well and is with us but Ramy _ord [possibly Raymond Lord?] was not able. Who is Henry going to peddle for? Who teaches your school?
¹ This is probably Pvt. Orrin R. Andrus or Corp. Orrin Simons. Both men served in Co. D of the 12th Vermont with Bartlett.