Letter from Lt.  Herschel W. Pierce

Dear Brother

I promised to write you and let you know my address, you will address Lieut. H. W. Pierce, care of 76th N.Y. Vols, Washington, D.C. I came in to Washington on the day that I sent my money from New York City to you by express.

Nothing unusual occurred. I reached Washington the next morning but I found that I could not obtain permission to visit my family in Va.

I accordingly came on to this place and found the Regt. a little sooner than I expected to, I supposed that they were at Brooks Station on the road to Fredericksburg about 5 miles from the place where we are now stationed.

I write you to let you know that I am well and give you my address. I should like to have you write soon as I am anxious to know whether the money that I sent you has come to hand. I have had a letter from Maria since I came here which was sent to Cortland and remailed reaching me on the 5th inst. It was written on the 23d of Nov. The folks were all well and Ralph had been to Gum Springs and purchased some sheep but had not got them home. They had killed hogs and had some 1200 lbs. of pork fatted on slops and in the woods. They fed no corn this fall to their pork. 

Every one wishing to address me will do it according to the directions given you. I have nothing new to write except that  it is intensely cold here with about 2 in snow on the ground and as we have no stoves it is extremely uncomfortable in the tents. We build a fire in front of our tents and enjoy it afterwards as well as we can. My fingers are normal most stiff with the cold and I have to write on my knee which accounts in great measure for these uncouth characters and cold as I is I must write to day as we march again tomorrow. 

All manner of rumors are afloat and Heavy Rifled Siege Pieces are passing this point for the front at or near Fredericksburg. I suppose we shall be thrown to the front in Double Days Division as it is well known that his Brigade is a Fighting Brigade. Whether we shall fight at or along the Rappahannoc depends on the Rebs themselves. If they stand there must be a fight, if they retreat we shall follow them up. 

I would like to have the folks at home write often and not wait for letter from me. You can imagine how it would seem for you to take your writing material out in the winter and sit down on a box or on the ground and commence and finish a letter. You would want to write very bad to do it. But this is exactly our case here, all the writing that we do is done in the cold and there is no help for it. I want Father and Eli to write as often as they can and I will write as opportunity presents itself. I must write to Maria at least once a week and this may be all that I can find time and inclination to do. 

Ben Carpenter is here he has been in all the Battles that the Regt. Has been engaged in except South Mountain. He was a little unwell and supposing there would be no fight that afternoon he lagged behind but came up at the close. He assisted in burying the dead and he and Culver buried Chals E. Stamp. Ed Haviland is here and quite well he thinks he shall outlive all of Capt. Powells Co.

I have not time to write more and it is to cold to do so if I had time.

Truly your Brother

H. W. Pierce


Soldiers mentioned in this letter are:

Benjamin F. Carpenter, private Co. E., Ninety-third NY Infantry transferred to Co. A 76th NY Vol Infantry January, 1862; promoted corporal, prior to February, 1863; killed in action July 1, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pa.

Lyman Culver, private Co. E, Ninety-third NY Infantry; transferred to Co. A, 76th NY Vol. Infantry January, 1862; to Veteran Reserve Corps, September 8, 1864.

Edgar D. Haviland, private Co. E, Ninety-third NY Infantry; transferred to Co. E, 76th NY Vol. Infantry in January, 1862; promoted sergeant prior to April, 1863; returned to ranks, no date; re-enlisted as a veteran, January 2, 1864; killed in action, May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Va.

William H. Powell, age 24, enrolled, September 1, 1861, at Richford, to serve three years; mustered in as captain, Co. E, October 9, 1861; discharged, March 13, 1863.

Charles E. Stamp, private Co. E, Ninety-third NY Infantry, transferred to Co. A, 76th NY Vol. Infantry in January 1862; promoted sergeant, September 1, 1862; transferred to Co. B, same date; killed in action, September 14, 1862, at South Mountain.

- transcribed by B. Conrad Bush.


A reader of this website, Tom Hall of Franklin, TN, sent the following note: 

Regarding the records of the 76th New York, Herschel Pierce is a many times uncle of my wife. His letters recounting his service, including his first hand account of Gettysburg, have been donated to the Dundee Historical Society.

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- Last Updated October 15, 2007