Monday, December 24, 2012

December 20, 1862:James Prall & the 31st NJ Regiment

In 1861, James Prall joined the Belvidere Infantry Company of the Warren Brigade of NJ Militia.  On September 10, 1862, Prall was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant of Company I (Belvidere Infantry Co.) of the 31st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment    (9 months service).   Prall served his full enlistment. After he mustered out of service, he purchased a country store in Delaware Station, Knowlton Township from John I. Blair.  In 1863, Prall was appointed Postmaster of Delaware Station.  He opened a post office in his store at 9 Clinton Street.

On December 20, 1862,  Lt. Prall wrote a letter to his brother from camp in Belle Plains, Virginia.  Dear Brother: I now on this Saturday afternoon seat myself to answer your long wished for letter which I received on Wednesday last.  I was very glad to hear from you as it was the first letter I received since we left Camp Warren and I was glad to hear that you was all well.  Now in the first place I will ask you how many letters you have received from me since we left there.  I have written three besides this.  We have not got any regulation yet about our mail and have not received but one mail mail since we came here but I think there will be some arrangement soon so that we will get our mail twice a week.   Now I will tell you how we have been getting along and what we are at.  I will be two weeks on Monday [December 22, 1862] since we moved where we are encamped.  Since we have been here our Regiment has been engaged in different ways.  Two companies is doing guard duty down at the wharf which is about one mile from our camp.  Two companies goes down to the wharf every day to unload Boats that comes in with Grain & Hay for the army.  One company goes out on picket duty and five companies is at work making and corduroying a new Road that was from a new wharf that we have built to where the main army lays our camp and has been to work and is at work now at the wharf and on the road. 

"I have been on duty every day until this afternoon and came to camp to get men and axes to go into the woods to cut some spikes for the wharf and I saw the colonel and he told me he would give me clear this afternoon as he thought I had done my share of duty. So I get clear and thought I would improve my time in writing to you as I suppose we will all have to work tomorrow. 

"Clark, the fighting at Fredericksburg had stopped again and I are afraid that we have had the worst of the Bargain.  We certainly did not gain anything and all say we lost it.   [It] is said that our loss was from twelve to fifteen thousand in killed, wounded and missing.  I have been goin over to see the army.  They have all came back this side of the river but I have not got away yet.  There has been lots of them over here to see their friends in our Regiment.  The whole army appears to be down on [General Ambrose] Burnside and say that if [General George] McClellan had have been there, they believe we would have had a victory with nor so heavy a loss.  McClellan is the man.  Yet in this army he is the man that has got the confidence of the men and he can do with them what no other general can.  It is possible that the army will not make another strike here again this winter.  When this war will ever close is hard to tell but I think it is doubtful if it ever can be settled by fighting.  They have good fighting men and good Generals to manage them and they appear to be more determined.

"May [Prall's sister],  It is now Sunday morning and I have got clear of going out to work this morning.  It is a fine morning and I suppose you are about getting ready to go to church.  I think I will go this morning.  I have not been to meeting for some time.  We have had very fine weather since we have been here only a little cold but not much storm that is what makes it so unpleasant here.  Elijah Burd [of Hazen] just came in.  He says I must tell you all that he is getting along all right.  He says when you have nothing else to do to write to him.  I have not received but one letter from home in four weeks now but we will get a mail today and I hope I may get one.  I got one from Geo. Prall this week.  I would write often home but the only time I have had has been nights and I have to write to some others too.  As long as I write once a week I think I do very well but I want you all to write as often as you can.  When I write to one I write to you all.  I will now stop again until this evening and see if we get any mail or not now.

"May, I just received the mail and Brown Clark's letter & one from Mary and Sam.  I was glad, very glad, to hear from you all. I also just received some of my butter & mangoes that I left at Mr. Swayze's which I are very glad to get.  The butter & mangoes & some bread & pies & some chicken he sent to Israel Swayze, he is in our Company, we will have a good time New Year.  That will do me as much good as the whole bag at Washington and are glader to get it.  I will get the balance of the butter now when I want it.  Elijah Burd wanted me to write father and tell him to get his folks to move there by you that he wanted them to do it.  I hope it will be so that father and Clark can get down this winter.  There is close by us I suppose about 2,000 Soldiers from all parts.  I must now close hoping to hear from you all soon.  I will write Mary as soon as I can.  Tell George I are glad.  I want all to write.  Happy New Year to all.  As ever, your Bro., James Prall."

Copyright 1999-2012: Jay C. Richards     

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