UNION SOLDIER LETTER—PRIVATE SAMUEL T. RIDER, Co. “D”, 115th NEW YORK INFANTRY

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Item Code: 1094-62

Dated “December 24th 1864 / Near Richmond, VA.” Addressed to “Father.” 4 pp. in ink on lined paper, 5” x 8. Exhibits fold-marks, Else VG.

Samuel T. Rider mustered at age 24 as a private into Co. “D”, 115th Infantry. He mustered out at Raleigh, N.C., 6/17/1864.

His 115th New York was mustered in August 1862, and immediately on entering service found itself captured with the Harper’s Ferry garrison by forces of Stonewall Jackson in route to Antietam in mid-September 1862, and paroled to Camp Douglas, at Chicago. Returning to service in November, the unit was dispatched to the southeastern theater where it saw action at the Battle of Olustee [FL].  The spring of 1864 found the 115th attached to the Army of the James and engaged at Bermuda Hundred, Drury’s Bluff and Cold Harbor, before joining the Ft. Fisher expedition and eventually participating in Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign to the close of the war. During service it lost 135 killed and mortally wounded and 188 by disease for a total of 323, and was listed as one of “fox’s Fighting 300” regiments.

In this letter writes of his regiment being gone and on the move while he and a soldier form Co. “G” have been left at Division Head Quarters as drivers, a job in which he and his comrade “have very easy times, we only work every other day.”

He then relates an interesting tale of a deserter who re-enlisted in his regiment under an assumed name in another company. As follows:

“I will write you a few lines now that I don’t want you to tel any one unless it is John Davis.  Abram Davis of Charleston  inlisted in a New York regiment and deserted and went to Troy and went to tending bar a while and then he went up summers around fort plain and last spring he inlisted again and got a big bounty. Captain McKitrick  out of our regiment was home last spring and Abram come out again in our Regt as a recrute. He was in Company C.

He was in our regiment for a long time before I knew it. The first time him was at Petersburg. He was shy of me at first but he saw that I knew him and one day he come around so I had chat with him. He said he wanted me to call him George as you see that he changed his name. He went by the name of George Sullivan and he stayed with the regiment until the Battle of Deep Bottom and then  he deserted again. I have not heard from him since…”

An interesting letter relating the story  a deserter who had the nerve to re-enlist in the same regiment, under an alias, but in a different company without being found out—only to desert again at the Battle of Deep Bottom.  In protective sleeve.    [JP]  [ph:L]

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