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Capt Hickey Letters

Transcription of letters written by Captain Thomas Hickey


replica watchesAll spelling, grammar, and punctuation have been copied as close to the actual writing as possible. Where a word has been impossible to decipher, it is marked “[ ? ]”. Where a phrase has been impossible to decipher, it is marked “[……..]”. Where spelling has been corrected, or a word inserted to clarify a sentence, the corrected spelling or added word is in brackets.

The transcription has been as true to the original as possible. Where a word was crossed out by Captain Hickey, the transcript also has that word crossed out.

The letters and transcription are the property of the Potsdam Public Museum and may not be copied or reprinted in any form without the permission of the Potsdam Public Museum.

Mickey Champagne 2011

            Camp 164th N.Y.S.V.
    Sang[s]eter [Sangsters] Station    May 2d 1864

My Dear Wife

        I sent you a short note this morning
saying that I had returned to camp all safe
and that I would write to you more fully this
evening. So here goes.
                    Twelve oclock noon on the 28th ultimo
the gallant 16th Regt. left camp on a six days
scout, our destination being the Blue Ridge mountains
we arrived at Centrevill at 2 oclock P.M. where we
remained for three hours; to blind the citizens as to
our destination, while here the 9th Army Corps under
the command of Maj. General Burnside passed through
the village and took the Warrington road,
at 5 oclock P.M. we left the village of Centreville
taking the Frying-pan road, which after marching
four miles brought us to the Winchester
and Leesburgh turnpike, this is by far the best
road I have seen in Virginia, it is macadimised
and travellers on it before the war had to pay toll,
but now it is free to all and but little travel
is on it, the rain has washed the durt entirely
from its surface and left little sharp stones
on top, which are anything but agreeable to the
weary traveler or the barefooted soldier, at 7 oclock
P.M. we halted for supper after which we moved
stedily on,  the night being quite dark it made
traveling on this stone road very disagreeable, at 12 ocl-
ock, midnight we halted for the night, having marched
from camp 21 miles. We Buvouac for the night
near an old church which was erected by Ex-President
Monroe, whose residence is near the foot of the
Bull run mountains and one mile from this
place,  his house is a fine stately looking building
and is now occupied by a distant relation of
his. Major John Fairfax he is now an officer
on General Longstreets staff, and a notorious rebel,
if the departed Spirit of the illustrious Monroe
could return to this world, and see its present
condition, the condition of the noble Republic which
he helped to construct, he would curse the leaders
of this unholy war; and cry aloud to his country-
-men to uphold the Government.
                Lieut M-Caffery and
myself spread our rubber blankets on the ground
and laid quietly down to sleep with nothing but
the broad canopy of the heavens for covering,  the
night was exceedingly cold, and we sought
sleep in vain,  around lay many tough and hardy
soldiers, veterans to hardship, who slept although
shivering with cold,  we concluded that our only
salvation would be a fire, but the question was
where is the wood,   we got up and looked around
but nary a wood could we find, we approached
the church with a reverential step and heads
uncovered but found its walls were of brick, and
our conciencious scrouples left us,  there was a
grave-yard near it, and we came to the conclusion
that it was better to keep life in live men
than a fence around dead ones,  acting upon this
conviction, we put our shoulders under a couple of
lengths of the fence,  the posts gave way and the
fence moved off,  but to our astonishment something
commenced pulling it away from us,  what could
it be a ghost who had arisen from the tomb
to dispute our right to take the fence; not being of
a superstitious disposition, I went back to ascertain
the cause of the pulling. I found  strap hitched to
the end of the fence, and to the end of the strap
was the head of a horse belonging to one of our
troopers, who had taken advantage of the long
g[r]ass in the grave yard and hitched his horse inside,
we built a fire of the fence and laid down by the
side of it and slept soundly until morning.
We got our breakfast early and 7 oclock A.M.
found us again on the road,   a march of one
mile brought us to the Village of Aldie which
is a very romantic little place the village lays
in a valley and is surrounded by high mountains
on each side there is no business done in the
Village, and the dilapidated apparence of the houses
speak to [too] planely that war has been waged in
their midst,   it was at this place that the
Gratest Cavelry fight of the war was fought
The Rebels were command[ed] by General Stewart
and the Union [forces] command[ed] by General Pleasenton
our forces drove the Rebels through and beyond the
Village of Aldie; two miles from this place we
came to the Village of Dover, which is composed
of a Grist mill and a few houses. We captured three
rebels with horses and accoutrements in this place
the country through here is very mountainous but
under a high state of cultivation,   farms are all well
fenced and well tilled and the farm houses sur-
-pass anything I ever saw,   mounted Rebels could
be seen on nearly every hill watching our movements,
but took good care to keep out of range of our
Rifles. Four miles from Dover we came to the
Village of Middliburgh, which is by far the neatest
little place I have seen in Virginia, the houses are
in good condition and business appears to go on.
Shops of all descriptions were closed on our approach
and no men could be seen. We rested here fifteen
minutes I went into a Blacksmith shop close by,
found the iron hot in the fire, but nary Blacksmith
we marched four miles further and halted for
dinner, fires were built and coffee was boiling when
the Colonel ordered the Regiment to fall in, which
order was reluctantly obeyed as coffee was nearly
boiled and the men were tired, but hearing a
few shots fired in the advance, they were inline
in an instant, our advanced Guard had been
attacted, a double quick of one mile and a half put
the enemy to flight and gave us an appetite for our
dinner and brought us near our destination. We
halted at Mill Creek and had dinner, it was at
this place we were  to meet a Brigade of Cavelry
which had gone from Vienna and was coming
to this place by way of Leesburgh
they arrived at 5 oclock P.M. and the I whole force
camped for the night on the hights near the
creek,   the mill which this creek takes its name
from is in good condition and in perfect running
order,   it is owned by Mr Hatcher who owns
a nice stone residence close to the mill,   he boasts
of two goodlooking daughters, and four sons the
four latter individuals are in the Rebel Army  two
are acting with Mosby the other two are in the regular
Virginia Cavelry Mr Hatcher had taken his leave
just before our arrival accompanied by what able-
-bodyed negros he could muster,   his daughters no
doubt would have accompanied him but some person
must claim protection for the property, and who
can plead with a soldier so well as a good-
-looking woman,  but pleading would not go down
this time; twenty barrels of flour and meat was
taken from the mill; and nearly one ton of
bacon from the house,  this is Mosbys headquarters;
in the next farm house was found one thousand
yards of cotton clothe and callicoes of all description
which as a matter of course were all taken, including
fifty revolvers which were found buried in the
celler on the morning of the 30th ultimo it was
ascertained that Mosby with considerable force was
at Uppervill four miles from where we encamped
it was determined to go out and offer him
battle and for that purpose twenty four men
from each company with their Captain was
picked for the occasion,  the balance of the Regiment
was left behind to guard the wagons and priso-
-ners; the latter numbering about thirty. Some
belonging to Mosby, and some to the Regular
Virginia Cavelry,   the line was in motion
by 8 oclock A.M. and we moved cautiously
in the direction of Upperville,  the farms as
we neared the mountains were far superior
to anything I ever saw,   beautifull residences
which looked the picture of comfort, and plenty,
as we neared the village the enemy showed
signs of disputing our advance farther; we
moved stedily forward and they fell back
gradually skirmishing as they went; when
we reached the village we halted for a few
minutes to rest. I had a fine opportunity
to look at the town, which is rather a
shabby affair,   not a man could be seen,
and the woeman,  the lord deliver me from
them. Were the genuine [ ………………..             
………….]  after resting fifteen minutes we
were again in motion two companies
were thrown forward as skirmishers
before whom the enemy fell Back to the Blue
Ridge Mountains and took up a position
and held the road through the mountain which
is known as Ashby’s Gap,   they being well
mounted it was imposible for us to follow them
with effect. Cavelry should fight Cavelry
but our Cavelry was a failure, although they
were two to one of the enemy,
the Rebels, seeing that our cavalry was a failure
grew more bold,  and some thirty of them
endevoured to get in our rear by riding down
a picket post which was established on
another road near where our Regiment lay,
it was a bold and desperate move and if
successful would have caused considerate confu-
-sion,  the Regiment formed in line and as
they rode down the mountain within range
we gave them a volley, they returned the fire
and retreated double quick. You can find these are the best replica watches for men in the UK. We followed them
for a short distance but it was no use, infantry
could not catch them, we lost one man killed
and one taken prisoner, they must have lost more
than us, as quite a number was seen to fall,
during all this the Cavelry five hundred strong
never stirred from the road, they had came
over forty miles to find the enemy – had seen
them and was now ready to go home.
God help the country, when its safety is entrusted
to Cavelry,  they are a poor excuse for soldiers.
After exchanging a few more shots with the
enemy the whole force returned to Mill Creek
where they arrived in safety at 5 oclock P.M.
while we were gone to Ashby’s Gap, the force
we left behind [had]  a brush also, in which
Lieut Stephen was the hero. He was on guard
at the mill when two horsemen rode quite
near his post and exchanged a few shots
with him, there was no one hurt in this affair
we remained here all night and in the morning
at Seven oclock started home, having accom-
-plished I suppose all that was desired
the whole force was under the command of
Colonel Lowell, who commands the cavalry Brigade
at Vianni [Vienna], we reached camp the same
night marching farther in one day than
has been marched by any Regiment in the
Service during this or any other war, distance 45
Miles, we reached camp at ten oclock at night
pretty well beat out, thus ended our scout
to the Blue ridge mountains.
                    I have entirely
recovered from the effects of the march and feel
like myself again. I received you letter saying
that you had received the money which I
am thankfull for, there is no excuse now
about sending you cards, have a Vinyett taken
my love to Minn and John excuse mistakes
for this was written in a hurry no more at
present from your husband
                    Thomas Hickey


P.S. I have just received orders to move my
company five miles further up the rail
Road at six oclock tomorrow morning
it is now eleven P.M. about time to retire
I think.


                              Bull Run Bridge
                                    May 12th Midnight

My Dear Wife
                 it is is midnight and
    all is quiet,  not  a sound to be heard
    but the steady tramp of the Sentry
    as he causiously walks his beat.
    I have just returned from Sansster [Sangsters]
    Station when I was ordered to
    report for orders which I have
    received and they are as follows.
    I will have my men in rediness
    to march at 10 oclock A.M. tomorrow
    morning, join the Regiment by 1200.
    noon,  when we will all move to
    Alexandria when we will take
    transports for Acqua Creek and
    report immediately to General Grant,
    this is what I have been expecting
    for some time.  You must not feel
    uneasy about me because you cannot
receive any letters,  there is no fears
but what I will come out all
right. I will write you agane [again] the
first opportunity, it may be soon
and it may not be for some time
but don’t be discouraged  hope for the
best and all will be well.  I will
send my trunk and papers home
by express from Alexandria – that is
if I have an opportunity – do not
write again until you hear from me
which I trust in God may not
be long,  for the present good by take
good care of Minni, and may
God protect and watch over you
until my safe return is my
constant prayer, no more at
present from your husband.
            Thomas Hickey

Excuse haste



                        Second corps second

                           Camp 164th N.Y.V. on the-
                        Field   May 18th 1864


My Dear Wife.
                          We have had a
    terrible fight this forenoon
    our Brigade lost heavily,  our
    Regiment has lost 128, one hund-
    red and twenty eight  men.
    My Company has lost 16 men
    including Leut McCaffrey who
    is Badly wounded  the fight
    is still going on.  God only
    tell when it will end
    but thus far I am all right
    Bill is also unhurt do not
    worry about me for God has
    a protecting hand over me
    the Rebels fight desperate
    we are now at Spotsylvania
    Court House and contending
    hard for the hights

God help our Kill and wounded
for the slaughter has Been
terrible. Col DeLacy is mortally
wounded Leut O’Sullivan is killed
Leut Walters is killed. Capt
Hearn is wounded, the loss
in officers in our Regt and
Brigade is fearfull. I must
close as this may never reach
you I am sending it by a
wounded man who is going
to hospital,  may God protect
you and watch over [you] until
my safe return is my nightly
prayer from your husband
        Thomas Hickey

                      Camp 2d Division 2d corps in the
                    Field       May 19th 1864

    My Dear Wife
                  I wrote you a short
note yesterday after the fight, and
knowing how anxious you will
be I embrace this opportunity to
let you know that I am still
in the land of the living and
uninjured for which I am
exceedingly thankfull to God for
his mercy. Leut McCaffray is
not as badly wounded as I first
supposed,  it was a flesh wound
in the arm caused by a piece
of a shell.  There has been no
fighting today but preparations
are being made for Battle
our Division was moved from
the extreme right where we were
engaged yesterday, to the extreme
Left  [ ? ]  of the army it was
done during the night    we
marched 10 miles after ten o’clock
to get into position   quite a
walk   I take in after a hard
days work and scarcely nothing
to eat   the Mail Boy has
just called  I will write again
soon. Yours in haste
               Thomas Hickey

Direct your letters as follows

2d Corps 2d Division

Thomas Hickey
Co “A”
2d Corps 2d Division
   Corcoran Irish Legion
        Army of the Potomac



                Near Hanover Station
                     Camp 164th N.Y.V. 2d Corps 2d Divis
               4th Brigade Army of the Potomac
                    May 24th 1864   


My own Dear Wife
                   I have just
received your letter of the 15th [ ? ]
and I assure you that it was
a God send,  and while I read
it I am sitting on a small
earth work  [ ? ]  up himself
last night to protect us from
the enemys Guns,  the Fighting yesterday
was terrible  I never saw anything
to equal it,  our loss was very
heavy.  I think it is not right
that our Corps should do the
fighting for the whole army
the 2d corps flanked Lees army
Moving on his left Flank by
Bowling Green and Milford
the whole corps moved on the night
of the 20th  marched all night and
all day.. it was a desperate
move but it had the effect
of drawing Lee from his works
at Spotsyvania C. H.  our whole
Army is now here, and they
are now contending for the crossing
of the North and River.  I cannot
tell what one day will bring
for the God …[ ? ]
there will be desparate fighting
every day now.  I will write
You every opportunity but
I cannot tell wither those letters
will reach you, the [? ] are
In plain sight now and heavy
firing going on,  do not [ ? ]
[ ? ] about me for if it
is Gods will I must go
I will meet it like a man.
Untill you hear from me
again good by and may
God protect yourself and
child until my return
is my constant prayer from
your husband
            Thomas Hickey


                        Camp 164th N.Y.V.
                        4th Brig 2d Div 2d Corps
                             May 30th1864

    My Dear Wife
                   I have just been
informed that a mail will go
to Washington at 5, oclock P.M.
today, and knowing how anxious
you must be to hear from me
I embrace the opportunity to
inform you of my whereabouts
I am now sitting on a log
in a swampy ravine just ten
miles from Richmond,  it is
now 2 oclock P.M. and we have
advanced three miles since
four oclock this morning,  every
inch of ground has been fought
for,  the Rebels fight with great
desperation but no better than
our own souldiers   we are all
nearly played out with constant
fighting and marching  we crossed
the Panumkey River at Brandy
-    win  the night  before last and
I have scarcely slept a wink
since that time,  the Morale
of our army is good and I
honestly believe that we will
take Richmond soon, at
Least I sincerely trust that
we may. I suppose with the
taking of Richmond the Spring
Campaign will end, and
when that ends I will go
home if God will spare me
until that time, there never
was such a campaign as
this before in this war or any
other,  this is the 27th day
since crossing the Rapidan
and every day there has been
more or less fighting and some
days desperate Battles,  our
men are suffering for Rations
they do not get half enough
to eat,  as for myself I have
not had enough to make one
meal in four days and
nearly all the officers of our
Brigade similarly situated 

General Tyler commands
our Brigade at present.  I
am glad of the change for
colonels are continually
quarrelling. Colonel Murphy of
the 69th was wounded in the
first days of fighting   McCaffrey
is now with the company  his
wound was slight, Bartholomew
Maloney & Patrick Casey were
the only ones killed in the company
there is ten others wounded.
the firing has now ceased for
the present in our front. Burnside
is attacted [attacked] them on the left the
firing is very heavy   Our Brigade
has lost 400 men within ten
days, Delacys wounds are
mortal. William is all
right  he got two slight scratches
that just started the blood 
but that is all,  he never left
the company, have no fears for
me there is no use borrowing
unnessary [unnecessary] trouble, if God is willing
I will come out all right
Untill you hear from me
again good by and may
God protect and watch over
you until my safe return
is my constant prayer from your
            Thomas Hickey

P.S. my love to Minni

        Did you get my trunk


        Camp in the Field
          May        June 2nd 1864

                 My Dear Wife
                 It is now 4 o’clock P.M.
and our Brigade is ordered to charge
the enemy works at 5 o’clock.  The
works are formidable and we have
to cross an open field of a ½ mile
distance,  we will be exposed to
a raking [ ? ]  of artillery and
many brave man will loose their
lives. I may fall but I trust in
God that I may survive,  in him alone
I put my trust  if I fall this is
my last good by, and my prayer
is that God may protect and
watch over yourself and family
take good care of Minnie and
do not let her forget her father
no more at present from your
husband until death
                Thomas Hickey

P.S. I am leaving this with my
Drummer boy who remains behind

On the back :  Mrs Thomas Hickey
                          St Lawrence County
                          New York



                       Armorarry Square Hospital
                            June 10th 1864

    My Dear Wife
                I am now laying
on the flat of my back trying
to scraw you a few lines
with my left hand  they look
rough, but consider the difficulties
I am feeling quite  smart
today  my arm is doing
nicely  I will be all right
in a few wees [weeks] this is a good
hospital. I am getting better care
then what I could get at home
I will never go into the field
again   I suppose that you are sor-
ry for that, do not get excited
and come down here on the
spur of the moment to see me
for my life is in no dang
more danger than what
yours is, is it not to bad
for poor McCaffrey his family
will take it hard,  the Colonel
is wounded report says killed
Capt  Maroney is missing [ ? ]
Abrahams Boyle Reilly Realy
all are killed wounded and
missing write William
and give him my [ ? ]
and tell him to write me   have
him write the particulars [ ? ]
I will close by bidding you
good by for the present
from your husband
            Thomas Hickey