Saturday, February 18, 2012

February 18, 1862: Letter From H.D. Bray - 11th PA Cavalry at Big Bethel

On February 18, 1862, Corporal Henry D. Bray and Bugler Alfred M. VanScoten, of Belvidere, members of Company I ["The New Jersey Company"] of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, wrote a letter to John Simerson, editor/publisher of The Warren Journal. They wrote, "Mr. Editor: Having a little spare time, I thought perhaps you would have no objection to publish a small note, for our friends in Belvidere, they at least would hear of our locality.

"We are encamped one mile from Fortress Monroe, on a level plain or neck of land, in full view of the fort.  I am sorry to say that the weather is exceedingly wet, and we are in the mire knee deep.  However, we live in cotton houses, and we have a fine stove in them, which makes us very comfortable.  Our horses are finely stabled and cared for.

"Last week, the Regiment made an advance on Big Bethel.  When we arrived within a small distance of their fortifications, our advance guard discovered a large army of infantry stationed there.  Our Regiment returned to camp, but with reluctance.  However, the boys was bent on some kind of a charge, and you can rest assured that pigs and chickens and turkeys had to suffer.  They are about eight or ten thousand strong at Bethel, but we intend in the course of a week to make another advance on them, but shall send out the artillery and perhaps from twenty to thirty thousand infantry in our advance, and I assure you that the charges will not be at pigs and poultry.

"This was our muster pay day, and it was very unpleasant.  The boys from Belvidere are all well and in fine spirits and hearts aching for a fight.  I must close my letter as it is taps.  Yours, very respectfully, H. D. Bray, A. M. VanScoten"

Copyright 1999-2012:  Jay C. Richards     

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