Almer H. Montague
Almer H. Montague was born on July 21, 1842 in Bakersfield, Vt. the son of Harry Montague and Amanda Dunn. He resided in Cambridge, Vt. for the first 23 years of his life. He enlisted in Co. E of the 13th Vt. Vol. Inf. Regiment on Sept. 8, 1862. The 13th Vt. was stationed around Washington, D.C. spending most of its time doing guard duty. On June 25, 1863 the regiment was ordered to march north to join the Army of the Potomac arriving in Gettysburg, Pa. on the evening of July 1, 1863. The regiment was stationed in the center of the union line where on July 3 it helped defeat Pickett's Charge. Shortly after the battle on July 21, 1863 Almer was mustered out of the army. Almer was home only a short time before enlisting in Co. M of the 1st Vt. Cavalry on Jan. 2, 1864.He was involved in all the major battles fought in the eastern theater by the Army of the Potomac and also served under General Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. He was at Appomattox Court House, Va. to see the surrender of Lee's army. He was promoted to Corporal on March 1, 1865 and mustered out of the service on August 9, 1865.
The cousin of Almer H. Montague. George Dunn was born in 1846 in Fairfax Vt. the son of Lewis Albert Dunn and Lucy Ann Adams Teele. He was a resident of Georgia, Vt. when he enlisted in Co. M, 1st Vermont Cavalry on Sept. 10, 1864. George Dunn was killed on April 8, 1865 at Appomattox Station Va., one day before the surrender of General Robert E. Lee and the confederate army at Appomattox Court House. George Dunn is believed to be the last Vermont soldier to be killed in the Civil War. He is buried at Sanderson Grove Cemetery, Fairfax, Vt. Almer wrote a letter home to his sister on April 15th, from Nottaway Station, Va., describing his death.
Note: The first two letters were written while Almer was with the 13th Vt. Regiment.
Parents, Brother & Sisters
One and all I wish you a Happy New Year. Though Christmas & New Years make me think of home, I enjoyed the first very well & this day is passing off quite pleasantly. I find the best way for me is to take things as they come & calling all for the best, not worry or fret about things that are not as I would like best to have them, & if I can not be at home on the holly days, I am determined to enjoy my self as well as I can here, or wherever it is the will of Providence places me. I got up this morning at 2 o'clock, sat down and chatted with the watchman till the lights were turned up then read till breakfast time. I went out before the guard was on & had a pleasant walk of about for an hour. Staid out an hour. The wether was cool & the ground slightly frozen, which is the first time we have seen any freezing wether here for some time. 11 1/2 A.M. The sergeon in charge (Dr. Worral which is the one that doctors on my side of the house) has just been up into the pulpit, and after calling the house to attention, has told us that the guard has been taken of & as soon as we get our diner all that want to can go out and stay till 3 P.M. & he will trust to their honesty about their being back at that time. 3 P.M. Have been down to King Street Hospital where I found a couple of Stowe boys belonging to our Co?. One of them was so sick he could talk but little but the other was in the kitchen to work & I had a good visit with him. 6 P.M. Have spent the time since 3 in reading & writing. 9 P.M. Have been lying on the out side of the bed sound asleep all the evening so you will see how New Years has gone. I have had one yew years present. A couple of pretty little girls came into the hospital and gave each one of us an apple, but it is bed time. Friday morn. Cold but very pleasant. 12 P.M. Quite warm & pleasant where the sun shines but is till freezing in the shade. Have been out today and found the air keen & bracing. I go past the guard most any time I wish to by being careful to go when there are no patients in sight for they will think that if one goes another can & there is a good many here that cannot go down the street without getting drunk & getting into a fuss with the patrols, or getting caught by the doctors. I would say to mother that the dried apples she sent me have made a great addition to my living. I have had some applesauce twice, & have paid 50 cts to have the rest made up into pies. I thought as long as I had so many dried berries & currants (for those that Lucy ? sent are not all gone yet). I had rather have some pies, than so much sauce, I have had four good nice ones brought in for me today which takes the last of the apples. I have got some berries on the stove stewing now, so I think I shall live for a few days. 3 P.M. A week or ten days ago I spoke to the steward (who is from Montpelier Vt) about getting me a chance to go to work in the Hospital, for I knew very well that I was not going to be able to camp out on the ground again this winter, & he said that there was no vacant place just then but he thought there would be by the time I was able to go to work. They are going to send away a squad of patients now in a few days. The convalesents to go to the convalesent camp or Camp Misery as the boys choose to call it. While those that are able to be moved and will not get well under forty days are to be transfered to some of the Northern Hospitals, probably to the states of Penn. or N.Y. The steward has just been along here where I am writing & says he will get me a place where I can pass off as an a waitor when the rest are sent off & in that way he can keep me here till they are gone. When there will be no trouble in finding me a permanent situation in some good place.
Saturday P.M. Gov. Holbrooks son & Dr. Lyman from Vt have just been in here & say that they are going to take us all to Old Vermont next week and place us in the hospitals of that state. Dr. Lyman was here last week & said that he should take all the Vermonters in this hospital home with him that were able to go except myself, but when he came to day Doctor Worrall told him put my name down with the rest, for said he, he has got a diarhea & when it is better to day it is worse tomorrow & he will never be any better while he stays in this climate. So I expect I should soon see you again. We are all going to Brattleboro in the first place & when we get there, those of us that belong further north are to be sent to Burlington. Whether we shall be allowed to go home when we get there I dont know. When the Dr. said I was going I was glad and sorry. If I could not get well here I was glad I was going home, but I could not help feeling disappointed because I was not going to be able to do anything for my country will at present. If you have not sent me any money when it gets here it will be sent back I think to you. As soon as I get to where I can I will write you again.
Our doctor says we are to start from here Friday. I will close now and get ready for inspection which comes off at 9 oclock this morning. Yours & c. Almer
Near Alexnadria Nov 23 __62
To Mr Montague.
I feel it due to you that I should write you, to let you know that your boy is sick, and in the Hospital. I know something of the anxiety you must have, to hear from so noble a son as yours when sick. He was in the first place gradualy weakened by the change of climate, then a slow typoid fever set in, he then staid in his tent afew days, then he came to my office staid one day, and night, we took the best care of him, but the surgeon said he had got a fever, also that he had better go to the hospital. It was the 19th he has not been very sick yet although his fever remains he has been out of doors every day His strength holds out remarkably, although his fever has not got to its hight yet no doubt he will get well if nothing new sets in. He is taken good care off of, he has a good bed to sleep on, a warm tent to be in, and good nurses. Mrs. Reed is here. She takes care of him some. Everything that can add to his comfort he has. I went to see him to night found him reading the Bible, I asked him if he was accustomed to read it He said he was. I asked if he thought the Bible was a shure guide, he said he did. I think he is reading it with a good deal of interest.
I must say he is one of the best boys I ever knew. Be sure and write often for nothing like a letter from home. Please write 2 a week. The mail is just going out Please excuse this poor writing.
From a Friend
I have just been to see him He rested the best night he had since sick, he says he feels better this morning He is now siting up eating his breakfast
Joseph J. Boynton
Alexandria Va. Feb 11th 1964
I am still at this place without as I see any signs of leaving. I now write to have you write to me ____ ______ to this place as I am getting anxious to hear from you. We are now as closely confined as any rebel prisoner in the old capital prison in Washington and the reason is this Some miserable scamps abuse the priviliges given them when we first came here and deserted and the rest of us must suffer for it. We are not allowed to go out side of the door now without a guard. I am well and enjoying myself as well as possible under the circumstances. It is just dark. I will send you $11 one of which I got of Uncle L.A. Dunn but I think it is not good. Please let me know whether the $ bill is good or not as it will not pay here
Yours in haste
Write as soon as possible so that I can get an answer before I leave here for we are likely to leave any day and may stay a month.
Camp near Stevensberg, Va. Mar. 29th 1864
I hardly know how to begin to write a letter to you, and one thing I am sure of, that is, that you will hear no more from me till I get a letter from you, now don't you think it is most too bad that I can't get a letter from home, but once in two months and more. But I guess I have scolded enough, and will see if I can think of any thing else to write.
I did not write to you the day I promised to for I had a chance to go over and spend the day with Albert and did so and since then I have had no time to do so until now, for on Monday following we had a sort of review and inspection to see what was lost on the "raid to Richmond" (as we call it) and at roll call, PM at sunset, Monday night Birney and I, with 4 others of our co. were detailed to go on a scout to Grove Church (which is situated about 8 miles north of Ellises Ford on the Rappahannock River) and there we done picket duty till Sunday noon, when about 300 men from the 1st corp brigade (which was the same number we had there from there from our brigade) came out to relieve us, when we went over there we stopped for the first night in some barracks that the rebs were driven out of last fall, just this side of the river, and got to Grove Church about noon Tuesday. It commenced snowing soon after we got there and the wind blew from the north so that we could hardly stick up a tent. After standing the storm as long as we thought it would pay, Birney and I with others from Co. E led our horses into the church and hitched them on the lower floor where we found a stove which we set up in the gallery and took our hatchets and chopped railing down for firewood, we slept there that night and without fairly realizing what a comfortable place we had found, till we looked out the next morning and saw the boys outside, some of which were buried full eight inches deep in the snow (with their feet towards a blackened pile which had once been a fire) and to all appearances with their mental faculties buried deeper in slumber than their bodies in snow, while others were just crowding out, shaking the snow from their clothes, and oathes from their tongues, while still another chaps that were bound to keep warm were standing round a blazing pile of logs where they had stood all night turning one side to the fire and then the other to the storm and then "vice versa". A detachment from the 6th Michigan went on guard the 1st day and one from the 7th Michigan the next. So we were lucky enough not to be called out till Thursday and for the next 24 hours I will assure you I had enough to do, (though it was pleasant weather all the time, just what would make good sugar weather in Vermont for the snow melted through the day and at night it froze quite hard. On our picket post we ad 8 men, on of which stood vidette through the day and two through the night. We had to send a man into report to camp every two hours and twice during the time 6 men had to patrol down to Ellises Ford over as rough, stoney and lonesome a road as one could wish to ride in company with 5 others each with drawn revolvers, ready to fire on the first bush whacker that made his appearance, but as luck would have it they did not meddle with us, and we can into the main reserve at noon Friday just in time to save a wetting for it commenced raining and kept it up till mid-night, I mean Birney and I got out out of the rain for, just at dark that night when it was pouring down as it only does in Va. 25 of the Michigan boys who had been out on a scout came in with the report that they had just had two men shot (one of which was killed instantly and the other wounded in three places) by rebel cavalry which they met towards Falmouth. And in less than 15 minutes the rest of their Reg't. in company with the 1st Vt were in their saddles and running their horses off in the rain in the direction of Hartwood Church, but on arriving at the place where the men were shot not a reb, was to be seen. They came into camp again at 9 P.M. and the next day 150 men under command of Leut Col. Preston 1st Vt went out and scoured the country for miles around the place but before we got there the rebs had gone inside of their lines or what is more probable they were nothing but guerrillas and bush whackers,, and before our folks got hold of them, they had turned good Union citizens.
This scouting through the county in small squads is rather dangerous business, and if you could have seen the squad of 32 men, that I was with marching through the woods and into hollows and swamps, jumping logs, ditches and fences, with our carbines in our hands at half cock and men thrown out in front, in the rear and on the sides to watch to watch for bush whackers which were likely to fire on us at any minute perhaps you would think that we would rather "be out of that scrape" but not so for we were after men that had killed one of our own number and we had that morning seen him nailed up in a rough box and buried in an old church yard, far from his home, without a friend to drop a tear on his grave, though many were the stern faces that were seen as they stood around his corpse swearing vengence on his murderers for he was shot in cool blood while riding as an advance guard some 100 rods in front of their co. and before they could come up he had been stripped of his arms and watch and his murders were fleeing for the woods where they were backed up by a stronger force than our force deemed it prudent to attack. When we came in camp here Sunday we found the river so high that we nearly had to swim our horses and got some wet, but here we are again all straight, I have tried to give you a little history of the scout but guess it is so mixed up that you can't understand it. And as for the history of our raid to Richmond I don't know how I shall make our for I did not keep my diary during that time to have forgotten a good deal that I might have written when I first came back but will try to see what I can do and any questions that you may wish to ask respecting it I will answer in my next. I shall now have to leave this to finish tomorrow.
April 2nd noon
It seems that we are having our winter down here in March and Apr. for since the first 3 days that I spent in camp (which the old soldiers say was the 3 coldest days they ever saw in Va.) we have had very pleasant most all the time till since we went to Grove Church, while there as I have told you we had a heavy storm and since then it has rained a good deal and today it is both rainy and snowing, and about as trough a storm as I ever saw in Vt. but I have got into a good tent with some first rate fellows and have got a good woolen blanket on my horse, with a tent blanket over it which keeps him warm and dry and have nothing to do but to make myself as comfortable as possible and spend the time writing. I will now copy a little from my diary. Saturday Feb. 27th - Have drawn our horses and equipment, all new and have received orders to get everything ready for a march. Have been riding my new horse and find him to be a green, awkward ugly colt, has thrown himself with me on his back twice Sunday. Feb. 28th, Very pleasant day, Have finished drawing our arms which now consist of carbine, revolver, and sabre, have drawn 40 rounds of cartridges and have got our blankets strapped to our saddles and 3 days of rations for our selves and one of grain for our horses put up, and are to leave camp at dark. The rest I write from memory. We marched out of camp about two miles and waited a couple of hours for Kilpatrick to get his forces together and then struck off for Els' Ford where we crossed the Rapidan about midnight, capturing a rebel picket post of 10 or 12 men. After getting fairly across the river into the rebel country we started off in the dead run and I wish you could see the blankets, haversacks, canteens etc that was scattered along the road for the next few miles, for everything that was not fairly strapped to the saddles was flying in all directions. At two o'clock A.M. George Cady's horse got tired out and he had to turn back and go to our old camp while the rest of us went on till 11 A.M. when we stopped for the 1st time to feed our horses for the first time. And to make us a cup of coffee. Halting only 45 minutes we dashed on till 4 P.M. when we came to a railroad where part of us dismounted and tore up the track and took rails from the fence and piled them along the track and then set them on fire. (Pen has played out) we then struck off in the directions of another track which we had but found that part of our boys had been there and set on fire as nice a depot as I ever saw and together with the depot and side buildings there was hundreds of cords of wood which the negroes were setting fire as fast as possible. From this place we ran our horses several miles and stopped and gave them the 3rd and last feed we had for them that night at 9 o'clock. We kept on marching all night and all the next day only stopping once about 10 o'clock A.M. to get corn for our horses and till we rode right up to the first line of breast works, before Richmond about 4 P.M. and there we stopped and pulled off our bridles and fed our houses from grain we found inside their works and then kindled up fires and cooked coffee right on the ground that would have been directly under the mounts of the rebel cannon, had they had them where they had once had them, when just at our rear lay the ground that had been occupied by our troops while they were fighting to take those same breast works that now seemed to be entirely deserted by the rebs, and along the tops of which our boys were now seated with the utmost ease viewing the surrounding country, and this all within 5 miles of that rebel stronghold which they make their brags no Yanky will ever enter, except in irons. Up to this time we had not seen a reb except those captured at the ford on the Rappidan though we had heard from them in our rear several times, where they had collected to attack us, but they found that when they got where we was, we weren't there and they could not catch us. By this time many of our horses were getting so tired that they could not eat, but could lay down and rest as soon as they stopped. We halted here but an hour and rode over the breastworks and down towards the city we marched a mile and a half and halted and formed in lines of battle where we remained till dark, and just as we got orders to march again it commenced raining and a darker night I scarce ever saw, we now through the 2 nd line of breastworks and it seemed as though the Johnys were laying a trap to catch us for not a gun had yet be fired nor a reb. seen (though we found them both as soon as we wanted to) we went with in two and a half miles of Richmond and built our fires and camped for the night right under their noses. To be continued in the next number.
The following is written upside down at the top of the page, as transcribed by DH Story:
Direct to Co. C 1st Vt Cal.
Soldier, West Alexandria, Va.
Camp near Stevensburg Va
April 9th / 64
I was very happily surprised a few nights since by recieving a letter from you as I had no reason to expect one til I wrote you as I promised to but I was very glad to hear from you. We begin to wonder what became of Mr Nichols for his furlough was out nearly a week ago and he is now reported as "absent without leave". When he went home I bought just the gayest little horse of him that can be found in these parts. Today is a very wet day here, Through the month of Feb and the first half of March we had very pleasent weather most of the time, but for the last three weeks it has reined or snowed most of the time and the mud is getting quite deep. I like the cavalry service much better than I did the infantry. I have been down to Grove Church on a scout since the raid. We stayed there six days and spent the time doing picket duty, scouting, patrolling, and skirmishing with the guerrillas and bush whackers which continually infest that part of the country. While there we had two men killed and one vidette captured. This scouting through the country in small squads hunting up gurrillas has just danger and excitement enough to make it interesting for me. I think this is the place for me me for I know that I should never be contented away from the army in times like these. I thank you for the invitation you gave me to come and eat new sugar with you though at present business detains from accepting your kind invitations. But Rollin I hope the time soon comes when friends can eat, drink, and be merry together without being disturbed by such business as I am presently engaged in. What do the folks up there think of the last call for men.
You quoted Vt. prices in your letter so I will quote a few Va prices in mine.
Butter per lb 60 cts, cheese 40 cts, dried apples 13 cts, eggs per dozen 60 cts &c&c. Give my respects to your folks and remember that I shall always be glad to hear from you.
A H Montague
Hd Qtrs 2d Army Corps Va.
May 1st 64
Dear Sister Lib
How do you think I have spent this Sabbath & beautiful May Day. I can look back into Vt. & imagine about how you are spending your time, but you cannot see me quite as plain for there is hardly two Sundays spent alike, & yet most every Sunday we army boys seem to have something to do extra. We started on the raid to Richmond on Sunday. We went to Grove Church on Sunday. Two weeks ago to day I went with Gen. Hancock to Culpepper to Gen Grants' hdqrs. To day we have been out with the chief of Gen Hancocks staff on a scouting expedition. We rode from 9 A.M till 6 1/2 P.M. When I got back into camp tonight I was tired and hungry but I got a good supper and am going to finish up the day by writing to you. For supper I had potatoes & fried pork, bread & butter & applesauce & a good cup of coffee. Birney & I tent together & have been living high lately. We have not been out of butter since we came over here. Have had flour & cornmeal on hand all the time so that we could make flap jacks just when we choose, plenty of beans & dried apples. All the fresh beef we want, with once in a while a meal of beef liver, for there is from 90 to 100 cattle that are dressed every day right in sight of our camp. Have had but a few meals of eggs for I can not afford to pay 60 cts per doz. for them. But you will see that I am not starving or going hungry here when in camp & my little pony gets many a spare bread crust & hard tack though he dont need them for we get plenty of grain & hay. But I have just the best little horse in this army & if he was 150 lbs heavier Uncle Sam could not have money enough to buy him from me. He is a bright bay colt only four years old this spring & knows more than some men. His only fault is being to smart. The wether is getting very warm & nice down here. The trees & grass are quite green again & I have seen more wild flowers today than I ever saw in Vt. I went over to the old Vt Brigade the day before yesterday & carried Albert the piece of sugar father him in my box. I am going to eat most of the sugar & butter I got while in camp but shall keep the dried beef to eat with my hard tack when on a march. Could not send me any thing I should have thought more of. Just say to Frank whereas ? he is going to answer that letter I wrote him so long ago. Tell him I am getting ? independent out here & shall never write again till he writes to me. I suppose Luce is in C-- now but has entirely forgotten she has got a brother in the Army. I hear from her frequently through Albert. But Elizabeth it is getting quite late & as you must know I am some tired & shall have to bid you goodnight for this time.
From your obedient Servt
Directions are these & nothing more
Cav. Escort HdQrs 2d Army Corps
Albert is out with the regt. & has not been in any engagements
written upside down across top of page
Hd Qtrs 2nd Army Corps Va.
Monday May 16th/64
Father & Mother
Have just time to write you that I am alive & all right. If I had time I could write over a ? of paper giving a history of what I have been through & seen in the last 13 days.
The 7 days fight of the Pennisula & also the battle of Gettysburg will be talked of no more now for this has put them entirely in the shade. I have seen some bad shells humming through the air & bursting on everyside of me killing hundreds of men all around. Have been where bullets flew like hail. Where sharp shooters were firing at every mounted man they could see & though my Isaic (horses name) has been hit twice & a Sergt sleeping beside me was shot in the head wounding him slightly, yet I have been spared & never feeling better in my life. I have seen the old Vt. Brigade which has as usual stood the brunt of the battle. Jim S. Knealand is wounded & Geo. Knealand killed, Rob Foulton & Bingham are among the wounded & also Gurnsey Jordan of the 17th Regt. The Cambridge boys that came out in this Co. are all right. Don't know but little about the Cav. Regt., have heard that Charly Moll(?) was wounded.
Please send papers giving an account of our doings as fast as you can read them. Will try to send you a line every time the mail goes out which is once in 3 or 4 days. Direct every thing to Hd Qtr 2nd Army Corp Cav Escort Love to all
Yours & c Almer
Where is Luce & why dont she write me
This is a very dry hot day Cherries are full size & apples are as large as plumbs
Written upside down across top of page.
Please send a skein of linen thread
Written on left side of first page.
May 24th 1864
I have not date this letter at Hd Qtrs for instead of being there I am two miles in the rear.
Pretty place aint it for a soldier. But my case is this. I have got a regular detail to act as private orderly (big thing) for Gen Hancock with one of the other boys of my Co. & we take turns going on every other day. So I have nothing to do but half of the time & as I am off duty today I have come back to the rear with a fellow from Westford to graze our horses & rest up. This fellow Sibley by name is a nice young man that I was acquainted with in Williston & came out the same time I did. He is off & on duty the same time as I being orderly for the Generals Chief of Staff. Our horses have been quietly grazing on a nice piece of wheat which is all headed out for two or three hours & I have now hitched them up in the shade & gone to writing. I am now seated in a nice covered veichle which was formerly used by the family of one of the Va. Nabobs there being a place for a negro to stand behind as well as a seat for the driver. Men & negroes are rather scarce in this country at the present time though it is plainly to be seen that many of them left with the Southern Army for spring crops are growing on much of the land which must have been planted by some one that is just now is among the missing. We are now just on the north side of the North Anna river which seems to be a line which the rebs dont want us to cross. After severe fighting (the particulars of which ? this you have recieved through the papers) we have successfully driven old Sece to this place. We fought on this side of the Rappidan for 16 days almost continously for I think there was not a day in this time but some part of the Army was not in action & the battles were so closely connected that I might almost say call it one extensive battlefield. We left there on the night of the 20th & marched nearly all day passing through Bowling Green & Milford Station & camping just south of a small stream running to the east near that place. The next day was occupied in skirmishing with the Reb cav. of which quite a number were taken prisoner but on the second morning as no rebs were to be found the Army moved on again & came out with the enimies rear just after they were crossing the river where they turned and gave us battle. The 2d Corps charged on them at one point ( Near Oxford ford) & drove them across the river & the 5(?) Corps done still better for they all got across themselves a little farther up. When the charge was made last night by our Corps Gen. Hancock was for nearly an hour where the shells were bursting all around us. Though I saw many wounded by balls I do not remember of seeing one hit by a shell. If you take notice you can tell each day when I am on duty I recieved Luces letter on Sunday night & will answer as soon as I get a chance to send a letter through. I cannot tell anything about if & when this will go but am going to have it directed & ready to send the first carrier I can find going out. Our communications are cut off most of the time but will let you hear from me as often as possible. Sibley has woke up & thinks we had better go back to Hd Qtrs. I have heard heavy cannonading in that direction all day & am anxious to know the results. Perhaps I shall have time to write more before I send this. But once more I will say goodby & be off to the front.
Nicholas has come back & claimed Ike but I have bought another horse: He is a noble fellow. Color iron grey Paid $125 for the whole rig & would not swap with Nichols to day for $25 to boot. His only fault is being called a little ugly which is just no fault at all.
Written upside down on top of pages 2 & 3
HdQrs. 2nd Corp Va Aug. 3rd.
I recieved a letter from you the other day in which you said you had heard nothing from me since the fore-part of Apr. last and did not think I had recieved your answer, but I recd your answer (though it was delayed a little by going to the Regt) and as soon as I could answer it so it seems that it was the letter I sent and not yours that was lost, but I am very glad that you did not wait any longer for an answer but wrote again. Letters are so frequently lost that it will not answer for soldiers and their correspondents to be very particular about such things. Gland to hear that so any of the boys have got home from the wars once more to enjoy the comfort and the pleasures of home. I sent to the Regt day before yesterday and found Herbert Boomhowser alias Gen. Beauregard all right. Dan Walker was entirely recovered from the slight would he recieved on the Wilson raid. He has had 3 very narrow escapes from death this summer. A ball grazing his head, a fragment of a shell tearing up his boot heal and injuring his foot slightly and at another time and piece a shell entirely ruined his revolver without doing him further damage than a rather unpleasant jarring. You say that it is a rather dry time for news in Vt but here we could find plenty of news to write if there was not so many fellows following the army for no other purpose than informing you of all that is going on down here through the newspapers. Before we chaps can get out of the fight long enough to write they get the start of us and b the time we could get to writing it you are reading it from the papers. But as you may imagine as I am situated this summer I have a pretty fair chance to see my part of what is going on in fromt of Petersburg as well as every other place where the 2nd corps has been. We came back to this place from over the James on the morning of the 30th and arrived in sight of the rebel lines just in time to se the blow up of there much bragged of fort. It was a grand sight and yet a terrible one when we thought of the human beings there litterally buried alive with their guns, or strewn in pieces to small to be found, but such is war and sell would it be for the world at large if all traitors could be ? in the same day. I have written this in an awful hurry for it must go in tonights mail. Goodby
Directions are Car. Escort HdQrs 2nd Army Corps
U.S. Sanitary Commission
Washington D.C. Nov 13th
It has been a long time since I recieved your last letter and I'm almost ashamed to write now but not being willing to give up the correspondance with one whose letters are always so interesting I shall venture to write now. You will see by the date of this that I am not at 2nd Corps Hdq now. We were relieved by a detachment of the 1st ___ ?____ Rgt and after a rather uncomfortable passage on the boat from City Point. We arrived in Washington last Sunday and have since been stopping in this camp recruiting and drawing new horses and c. I have spent two days in the city with my sister who is stopping here with her husband who is at present Wardmaster of a ward in Armory Square hospital and you may judge how well I enjoyed myself. I dont know how long we shall stay here but hope we shall go to the front soon for now that I have spent all the time in the city that I wish to there is hardly excitement enough here to suit me. I am most afraid that I shall never feel satisfied anywhere but in the army. I suppose you have seen Uncle Nichols as we all call him here before this time as he left on a furlough a week ago. He is very anxious to get his discharge and I wish that he might for I hardly think he will ever be much benifit to the government so it would be so much pleasanter for him to be at home. How do the copperheads up that way feel about Old Abe's reelection. There has been much excitement here about the election lately but when I was in the city yesterday everything seemed to be quiet. Little M? flags were all hauled down and the Lincoln flags were triumphantly soaring at about as usual. I have now more hopes than ever that the ware will be short for in the past four years Old Abe has given the rebs many such lessons as they will not care to have repeated. But I see that my paper is full so good night for this time. Yors and c.
A H. Montague
Co. M 1st Vt Cav.
3d Div CC
PS. Since writing this letter I have heard that we are to start for the front at 7 o'clock tomorrow morning so you can direct your reply to Co M 1st Cav, Washington, D.C
Camp near Winchester
Dec. 7, 1864
I recieved your letter yesterday morn just as we were saddling up to go on picket and did not open it till I got out on vidette away to the front of the victorious army of the Shenandoah as I sat on my horse watching for any sign of rebs and waiting for the relief to come around I thought of the letter I put into my pocket in the morning and though it is against orders to read on post I could wait no longer. I read the letter, read the coppeshead language of the papers and I had plenty of thinking to do about old times and when the relief came around the two hours, generally so long, had seemed so short that I almost wished that they had left me alone with my thoughts an hour longer, for I almost imagined as I sat there that I was again chatting with you as of old and listening to some voices I had heard so often before. I should have been very glad to have been with you at that Thanksgiving you spoke of. You have probably read about the large lot of turkeys and chickens which were got up to give up the soldiers on Thanksgiving diner and I will tell you about what we got on an average. For the 4 in my tent we got one wing and one leg of a small chicken. There is nothing that makes one so anxious to be in Vt. as hearing about your literary societies and c. here every such thing is entirely neglected. The Orderly Sargt has come along and says be ready for dress parades so good night.
Or Regt is in the 2nd Brigade of the third Div. General Chapman commanding brigade and General Custer the Div. Yours in haste
A H Montague
Co M 1st Cav
(The "M" in the last line has a ? under it with an arrow pointing to it on the manuscript from which I am copying. This letter is apparently questionable)
Camp Russell near Winchester Va
Dec 10th 1864
I have recd your letter & am all right & Moseby did not get me or any of the rest of the squad that came at that time. The most danger that I was in while coming out was the danger of falling in love with a pretty girl where I was duty guard one night. But I finally succeeded in making my escape from the charms with which I was nearly wounded & arrived at the Regt the next Sunday after I left you & just in time to go with it on a raid of the valley to Mount Jackson where we found the reb infantry in force & had a smart little skirmish with them as we fell back. Co M lost 2 men, one wounded & the other captured. We were on the raid three days which made nine days that our Co had been in the saddles. We then laid in camp one day. The next day I was detailed to go on a scout about fifteen miles. The next we moved camp a few miles. The next went on picket in the morn & staid till 3 oclock the next after noon without an hours sleep & came back into camp & got our tents up & crawled into them prety early and prety tired but not to sleep for at 7 oclock P.M. the bugle blew to saddle up & up we got saddled & bridled & drew one days ration for ourselves & horses & then hung around our fires waiting for orders till 12 oclock midnight & then fell into line mounted & started for western Virginia over the mountains. We made but one halt of 60 minutes till 12 oclock next day then we stopped 45 minutes & made coffee & fed our horses & then went on till dark. halted till 3 next morning & then went on down the mountains & reached Morefield about seven A.M. There we stoped just outside the town & Sister I tell you the citizens around there had to suffer, for mind, we had been riding all this time night and day on one days rations & a more hungry savage lot of men you never wish to see. We found the farmers well supplied with everything eatable & left them without enough to scrape up to make one meal of victuals for their families. I wish you could have seen our column as it marched along the road back towards camp that afternoon (for the Johnies had been a little to sharp for us & got back through town just before we got there & we started right back) about every other man had a live goose or turkey on his horse while the rest were loaded with bags of flour & meal, pails, cans & jugs filled with "something I'll bet ye", to say nothing of the canteens that were mostly filled with swill or cider & nearly every man had his pockets full of apples (which were very plenty up their) I will stop for I can't describe the scene you will see that I was in the saddle every day but one for 16 days & perhaps will not wonder that I have not had time to write. Since we came back it has been very cold & as we have to drill twice a day we have improved every extra minute in fixing up our winter quarters but it now reported that we are to move our camp again tomorrow & leave everything so our labor in building stockades will be lost. The snow is now six inches deep here & has been all day & no signs of a thaw yet. It is after 9 pm oclock & I have writen this with my feet under the blankets while Sibley has been asleep & I begin to feel quite chilly & think perhaps I have answered you that I am still out of Mosebys clutches & will send this & wait to hear from you & get that letter of Fathers you spoke of. Oh: Geo. Dunn is back here all right & getting fat every day. He expects his father here in a day or two, am getting cold & sleepy every minute so here is a goodnight to you & the kiss you asked for ,Almer
Note: This letter is written from Almer's sister, Lucy Ann, to their father!!
Washington D.C. Dec 16, 1864
Good Evening dear Pa,
I have just been writing to Almer and will write a few words to you and send a letter I recieved from him yesterday. Perhaps you have heard from him before this but it is the first I have heard from him since he left Washington and there never has been a time that I have felt more anxious about him than I have now. When they left here they expected to meet Moseby as he has attacked every squad that had left here before them, and the same week they left, and after their leaving, Moseby and Phinchillas' gangs took a squad of 200 on the same rout the boys went. A few days before the boys went the bodies of three men killed by Mosebys geurillas lay on the Depot platform within 20 rods of my boarding place three or four hours waiting for their coffins. They were wrapped in their blankets, hat and other coverings. Every day there were some reports of the horrible cruelties of these robbers. The road to Mt Vernon has not been safe for a long time. Moseby comes into Washington about as often as he chooses. Was in here a little while ago in an old coal cart peddling coal, was recognized in one of the saloons where he stopped to drink liquor but was missing before proper authorities to arrest him were procured though they were very near at hand but about every other family in the city could rather protect him them from justice than to protect any loyal men from his blood thirsty crews. It is surprising to know how many Secesh there are in Washington but there are some of the most truly loyal people here too. We got the report in todays local paper that our "Canadian friends" think it best to rearrest those St. Albans raiders which they so very neutraly discharged. O! it makes one want to fight Canada too. I feel as though we could take Canada and England and whip them both, now even, if they do not behave they will find Uncle San can whip his neighbors children with the same lash he is whipping his own with. Albert is very anxious to get to his own Reg. I do not know whether he will. I think not just at present. I am not in the Treasury yet but Mr. Bax??? has taken my application to the Sec of the Treasury today but we shall have to wait a little before I know what can be done. Uncle Lewis left for the valley last Wednesday, has probably seen the boys before this, had first snow the 9th of Dec, a few cool days but has been pleasant & thawing lately. Tell Elizabeth her letter shall be answered soon as I can get the time to answer it.
The last sentence and "Luce" were written upside down on the top of the first page, as she ran out of room on the last page
Camp near White House Landing
March 18 ---
Year must have been 1865.
Camp Near White House Landing
March 22 1865
Thinking perhaps you would get anxious to know where your "darling" brother was & what he was up to now days while Gen. Sheridan is doing such great things. I will try & inform you. The fact is I have been along with Gens Sheridans & Custer & rendering them all the service & assistance in the power of one holding my high position & I feel fully assured that said Gens would never have succeeded in capturing Early's Army and the city of Charlottesville or in destroying all rebel communications (including telegraph wires, railroads, canals, & c) north of the James River had it not been for me & others of the same rank (via privates). I tell you Luce we have just had a big time: Started from Winchester with three days rations & forage, on our horses & coffee & sugar in waggons to last ? days more. On the fourth day we had our fight at Waynesboro where we whipped old Early & captured his whole force with the loss of only five men killed & wounded, two of which belonged to our Regt both of Co. A. One was killed by a shell & the other lost an arm by a fragment of the same. It seems almost the work of providence that more of us were not killed for we were drawn up in six lines in front of the enemies artilery for over an half an hour where we could see the flash of their guns & the smoke rise from their pieces & then would drop our heads on our horses necks & wait with anxiety better expressed immagined than expressed till the shells went humming over our heads or striking the ground in front of us would burst throwing the dirt in all directions & perhaps fairly filling our faces with mud. We were kept here with a light skirmish line in front of us to attract the enemies attention while the first Brigade were passing round the woods to flank them. But we finally got the order to charge & then came the fun. They saw our flanking party coming in on their left to late to stop them & had nothing to do but leave their works & run for life but they soon found that they could hold but a short race with our horses. Though for a short time they did do some pretty tall running but when we came nearly up to them firing into them with our carbines & revolvers & then riding into them with drawn sabres they would throw down their guns & holding up their hands came back in squads of from one to fifty. But you have probably read a better account in the papers than I can give you. After capturing all rebs we went in for victuals & soon cleared that little village of nearly everything eatable. After that we sent out foraging parties every day & as we passed through a very rich portion of Va. where our forces had never been you better believe we just lived high! That is: as high as we could & sleep on the ground & trowel six inches below the "surface of the earth" for the mud was all of six inches deep on an average. But the high living I had referance to was in regard to board. Though in fact about the best board we got, was a board to stand on to keep us from sinking out of sight in the mud for after riding all day in the column we were as nearly "buried alive" as we wished to be. We marched every day till dark & then stopped & groomed our horses & cooked our suppers & then had to get up in the morning & cook our breakfast & saddle up before daylight till we got to Charlottesville. But as I can sleep as well in the saddle as in bed I got along with that well enough. We lived on flour & ham mostly but had all the extras the country afforded such as apples, cider, honey & c, & c. I have been perfectly well & never enjoyed my self better & would be satisfied to raid it all the time if they would furnish me good horses. We lost a good many horses but captured lots of horses & mules so that most of the men came in mounted on something. We are now stopping here and resting our horses & getting them shod turning over poor ones & drawing new ones & judging from appearance getting ready for another raid as fast as possible & in fact are still under marching orders & expecting to move every day and hour. We have not received any mail for 24 days but I hope we shall get more before leaving here. We get no news except what we have seen in rebel papers & reports that our scouts bring in. I believe that a few papers came up on the boat this morning & perhaps I shall be able to get hold of one tomorrow. As I have had no opportunity of writing a letter home I wish you would send this along for perhaps though poor it will be better than nothing. Don't look for the ? on this paper for it has been on a raid.
Yours in Haste
G.B.D.- says he is expecting a letter from you. He & Birney are both well & wishes to be remembered to you & Sibley "don't want to be forgotten" Almer
This was written up the left side of the first page and across the top
Write as often as you can for we are in world again where we can get a mail once in a while. I recieved your letter yesterday____________. I think you ought to write to Cornelia for you now just how lonesome she will feel.
Camp 1st Vt Col, Apr 15th
(R) Nottaway Station Va
I know you will excuse me for not writing sooner when I tell you today is the first day since "Lees surrender" that I have not been on duty in the saddle. (And in fact it is the first day since we left Winchester, the 27th of last Feb, that I have not been in the saddle more or less) and I have written home a very short letter and written quite a long one to Uncle Lewis Dunn and Sister, I hope I shall never again be called upon to write a letter to anyone bearing such sadness as that letter must have carried to the very hearts of the whole family. as perhaps you have already guessed, Cousin George is no more. He was killed near appomatix Station the very evening before Lee surrendered his army, and as you might say, while Lee was making his last desperate struggle to break the unrelenting grasp that Gen. Grant had fixed upon him. On Friday night April 7th we went into camp after a hard days march near Prince Edwards Court House. Saturday morning got up and got our breakfast and moved out about sunrise. Halting a short time at Prospect Station then moved on toward Linchburg. We saw nothing of the rebs till about 5 PM. when the first Division which were ahead of us surprised them just as they were going to cross the railroad near Appomattox Station and captured three trains of cars. We were hurried down on the double quick to support the 1st Div. As fast as a Reg arrived on the ground it was formed in a line and moved into the fight. Our brigade was formed just to the right of the railroad about dark when Gen Custer rode out and ordered us to charge their batteries which were continuously shelling us through a thick piece of woods which lay between us and them. We found on entering the woods that the underbrush and vines were to thick for us to march through and keep our organization and soon were advancing "every man for himself". I do not remember seeing George but once after we entered the woods and then he was nearly ahead of all urging the boys to come on. We found a few of the enemies dismounted cavalry in the woods but easily drove them back in the rear of their artillary which had been continuously throwing shells most of which went crashing through the trees over our heads. But now and then our men were in their rear and our men almost up to the mouth of their guns, they poured out such a volly of grape and cannister as it was impossible to resist and we were obliged to fall back. Again we rallied and advanced and again were repulsed by grape and cannister. It was in this second charge that George was killed. He was one of the last to turn his horses head to the rear and had gone but a few steps in that direction when he was hit by a grape shot (I should judge about one inch in diameter) just under the right shoulder blade which passed through his back and lodged just under the skin near the center of his back and must have killed him instantly. I am very sorry that I was not with him, but by this time we had become completely mixed up for it was so dark that we could be within six feet of one of our own co. and not know them from a stranger. Captains knew not where to find their co.s, Cols their Regts. Officers road along the lines rallying the men wherever they were needed most. As I said before every man was fighting for himself and all fought like tigers. We knew that we had got ahead of Lee and if we whipped him here he would be fast, and we were bound to do it. The third time we charged and drove everything before us, capturing men, horses, mules, waggons and over thirty pieces of Artilery, when we discovered at what odds we had been fighting. When we first started on the charge my leg was hit by a spent grape which knocked my foot from the stirrup and parilyzed it for a few minutes, which was the only injury I recieved. On the third charge we had followed the fleeing rebs about half a mile when they opened a battery on our left flank and about the first gun fired, a large grape shot hit my horse just between my leg and his shoulder, so I turned around. I had just captured two jonnies and started for the rear. I had just reached the captured wagon train when my horse refused to go any further. There I made the Jonnies take the saddle of my horse and saddled up a mule, then I mounted up again and kept on back til I reached the railroad. All this time I knew nothing about George being killed and did not hear of it til one of the co (A young Ferrington that inlisted from Cambridge last summer) was brought back badly wounded. Sibley came back with him and told me that the boys were nearly all hunting for me thinking I would want to see him and help bury him. I started for the front immediately leaving my prisoners with others, but before I got there I met the boys coming back. They had done everything they could for him, giving him the best burial in their power. George had been a favorite in the company since the day he entered it and has always borne the name of a good soldier. I visited his grave the next morning and found they had placed his body under a tree in a very plesant place near the corner of the woods in which he fell and had taken a great deal of pains in placing a board at this head. I marked the spot were he fell and where he was burried so that I think I cold go to it years from now even if the woods should be cut down.
There. Since I began to write we have been called out and discharged our carbines and revolvers and have got orders not to load them again til ordered, and I am in hopes that we will never recieve such orders again, though I can that the fighting. We have now just got orders to be ready to move at 6 oclock tomorrow morning. Expect to go to City Point or Petersburg. Please forward this letter to Father for there is no knowing when I shall get a chance to send another one
City Point, Va. May 5th/65
I was surprised when I received your letter ( not at receiving one from you, for I have long been looking for one ) but that you feel as though I did not wish to correspond with you for I have always found your letter interesting, always containing some newes that I should never get from any one else, and I have always tried to be as prompt as possible in answering them & the last letter I received from you I answered the very day I got it & whether you never received mine or got it & answered it & I did not get yours I cannot tell. But Rollin lets you & I just write when we feel like it & not be so very particular about which wrote last. You will see by the date of this letter that I am present in dismounted camp but I have not been here long & would not be here another hour if I could get a horse that would carry me to my Regt. Yes! I was through Sheridans' raid & the whole campaign of conquering Lee's army. I have been perfectly well all the time & should have been following Gen. Custer yet if I had not lost my horse. I had a sable horse that I drew while in winter quarters & which had brought me through all the way from Winchester & I had almost learned to love him for a good horse is about the best friend a cavalryman can have but he was killed by a grapeshot while we were making a charge just the night before Lees surrender. I rode a mule or any thing I could get hold of till we got back to Petersburg. When I came to this place to get another horse but they have orders ? to issue no more horses & I judge we shall never be mounted up again at Uncle Sam's expense. You have probably heard before this of the death of cousin George Dunn. Uncle Lewis came down here after the body & I went up to Appomattox Court House with him to show him where George was burried & assist him in getting the corpse. George was a good soldier & one of the best hearted boys I ever knew & I can hardly feel reconciled to think he should be should be taken away just as the fighting was so nearly ended. If he could have live a few hours longer he would never again been exposed to rebel bullets & could have joined with his comrades in rejoicing over a victory of which he died in ignorance. Though the works of an overuling Providence may sometimes look strange to us, yet I know they are all for the best!
We are having very fine wether here now but the men all seem to feel very uneasy. It was only night before last that the men got up a big row & charged on two or three sutlers which have been of late charging exhorbitant prices for their goods & destroyed their tents & carried of their whole stack of goods. The officers turned out & tried to stop the men but after they fired two or three shots at the boys & wounded one they found out the men were armed as well as themselves & were not at all bashful about shooting they gave it up as a bad job & let the men go in & satisfy themselves & this they did by robbing & then burning three sutlers shanties completely to the ground. I saw several of the boys from the Regt. yesterday & they said they were expecting to march towards Washington tomorrow. What they will do with us I dont know yet but we expect to join them there in a short time but I will close.Write soon + direct as usal to the Reg't.
Respectfully yours &c.
April 30th 1865
I have few things that I have picked up that I wish to send by Uncle Lewis this morning + have just time. In the first place the book they are in I got Appomattox Court House.The blotter paper was in the County Register. The leaf from the locust tree grew in front of the court house.The other two that I pined together I picked off the bushes hanging over the steps of the very house in which Gen. Lee surrendered + the pieces of sticks is from the railing in front of the same.
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