SOLDIER’S LETTER - 8TH NEW YORK CAVALRY; WITH PIECE OF WOOD FROM THE MARSHALL HOUSE, ALEXANDRIA, VA, WHERE COL. ELMER ELLSWORTH FELL!

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4 page letter in ink on patriotic stationary with full color US flag on first page. Written by Charles M. Booth. Dated Camp Dickinson, Virginia, Oct. 3, 1861 and directed to “My Dear Sister Emma”. Excellent condition, all legible.

Accompaying the letter is a small sliver of wood, about the size of a kitchen match. Written on the sliver on one side is “MARSHALL HOUSE” and on the other side “ALEXANDRIA VIRGINIA”. Also written in the margin of the letter is the notation, “Enclosed is a bit of the floor where Ellsworth fell”.

Private Booth was evidently a sensitive person, in that he complains to his sister of profanity, intoxication, drinking, smoking, chewing, and swearing of his fellow soldiers. He mentions “Hamilton” (evidently Hamilton College). Letter is signed “C. Monroe Booth”.

Charles M. Booth enlisted at the age of 21 on 10/21/61 at Canandaigua, NY as a Private. On 10/28/61 he mustered into Co. A, 8th New York Cavalry. Promoted to Corporal 7/1/62, and to Sergeant on 11/27/64.  Listed as POW on 6/29/64 at Stony Creek Station, VA. Mustered out on 6/17/65 at Alexandria, VA.

 

The 8th, known as the Rochester regiment, was recruited by Col. Crooks, and was organized in Rochester on Nov. 14, 1861.  It is one of the famous three hundred fighting regiments enumerated by Col. Fox in his Regimental Losses in the he Civil War.  The members were principally recruited from the counties of Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, Orleans, Niagara, Chenango and Oneida.Only ten companies were organized in 1861, and these were mustered into the U. S. service at Rochester, Nov. 23 and 28, 1861, for three years.  The original Co. K was transferred to other organizations and a new Co. K was formed in 1862, as were the additional Cos., L and M, which were mustered into the U. S. service at Rochester from Sept. 29 to Oct. 14, for three years.

The original members, who had not reenlisted, were ordered to return to Rochester on Oct. 29, 1864, and were there mustered out and discharged.  The veterans and recruits were consolidated into a battalion of eight companies on Nov. 1, 1864, and remained in service.  Four new companies, I, K, L and M, formed of recruits mustered in for one and two years' service, in April, 1865, at the close of the war, increased the organization to the regimental standard once more.

It was finally mustered out and honorably discharged on June 27, 1865, at Alexandria, Va., under command of Col. Pope.  The regiment left the state, Nov. 29, 1861; was assigned to Banks'corps upon its arrival in Washington; served through the winter in the defenses of the capital; in 1862 it was in the Department of the Shenandoah the Middle Department with the 8th corps; and from August to December in the 5th brigade of Pleasonton's cavalry division, Army of the Potomac.  In Dec., 1862, it was assigned to the 1st brigade, same division; in Feb., 1863, to the 1st brigade, 1st division; in March, 1864, to the 2nd brigade, 3d division; joined the Army of the Shenandoah in Oct., 1864, and returned to the Army of the Potomac in March, 1865.

The regiment first came under fire at Winchester in May, 1862, where five dismounted companies were engaged.  It distinguished itself during the siege of Harper's Ferry in September by escaping through the besieging lines at night, capturing some of the enemy's trains while on the way.  It fought under Pleasonton in the famous cavalry battle of Beverly ford in June, 1863, where it sustained the heaviest loss of any regiment in the field-12 killed, 31 wounded and 7 missing.

The gallant Col. Davis was here killed in a personal encounter. At Gettysburg it fought in Gamble's brigade, Buford's division, which opened that historic battle.  Its casualties at Gettysburg amounted to 40 killed, wounded and missing.  In the subsequent campaigns in Virginia it saw constant hard service, its list of casualties in Oct., 1863, amounting to 48 killed, wounded and missing.  In Sheridan's raids and the Shenandoah campaign in 1864, it served in Wilson's division.  It was with Wilson in the raid on the Weldon railroad in June, 1864, in which its losses were 117, of whom 101 were reported missing.  In the final Appomattox campaign it sustained a loss of 31 in killed, wounded and missing, fighting under Gen. Custer.

Altogether the 8th participated in over 130 battles and skirmishes and lost by death 13 officers and 92 men, killed in action and mortally wounded; 6 officers and 213 men died of disease, accident and other causes, a total of 19 officers and 305 men, of whom 3 officers and 70 men died in prison. Medals of honor were awarded for distinguished gallantry to Henry H.  Bickford, corporal; Hartwell B. Compson, major; Charles A. Goheen, sergeant; William E. Hart, private; Daniel Kelly, sergeant; Andrew Kuder, 2nd lieutenant; John Miller, private; Robert Nevers, 2nd lieutenant; Mortimer A. Read, lieutenant; and Joseph E. Sova, saddler. Source:  The Union Army, Vol. 2, p. 188

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