1862: Daniel Stark to William Wait

This letter was written by Daniel Stark (1818-1906) who enlisted on 18 September 1862 at Amsterdam, to serve three years in Co. D, 32nd New York Infantry.  In May, 1863, he was transferred to the 121st New York Infantry. He mustered out with his company on 25 June 1865 at Hall’s Hill, Virginia.

Daniel was the son of Daniel Stark and Margaret Johnson of Perth, New York. He was married to Lydia Fairbanks (1820-1870) and had at least three children prior to his enlistment. Daniel was born in Scotland and died in Gloversville, Fulton county, New York.

Daniel wrote the letter to his friend, William Wait (1821-1880), a lawyer from Johnstown, Fulton county, New York.


Camp Near Stafford Court House
November 1, 1862

To William Wait, Esq.
Dear Sir,

I promised to keep you posted of my whereabouts and what I am doing. I am doing duty in the 32nd regiment on the soil of Virginia. The last letter I wrote was on the 11th. It was from Camp Baltimore. We remained in that camp till Sunday the 16th. We got orders to strike tents about 6 o’clock in the morning. About 8 o’clock the grand army was in motion. We were about 40,000 strong and when we started we were placed in reserve. Traveled about 12 miles and camped for the night at Catlett’s Station. We did not see a house with white inhabitants on all the road that day. On the 17th, the 31st & 32nd regiments with two brass field pieces were placed in charge of the wagon train. We being in the rear, we did not get started till about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and traveled till about 12 o’clock in the night, but we brought everything up all right.

On the morning of the 18th, [we] took our place in the front of the line. We traveled through a fine part of the enemy’s country which we find all laid waste by the two great armies. After about 16 miles we came to Stafford Court house which had just been left by the rebels as we came up to it. The village was deserted by all the white inhabitants but one family of Union people which remained. The Court House and clerk’s office were soon overhauled by our boys. Enclosed you will find two old papers that I took from the office myself which I want you to keep till I come home and I can tell you more when I see you. If I come across any more in my travels I will send to you.

From the 19th till the 23rd, [we] remained in camp. On the 24th, left camp and went on picket about 4 miles from camp but see nothing of any rebels. We returned to camp and remained till the 28th when we again struck tents about 4 o’clock in the afternoon and traveled about 5 miles and remained till morning ready to receive the enemy but we found none. In the morning we put up our tents and commenced reconnoitering. We are on the estate of one McClure near White Oak Church.

On the 29th we again struck tents and moved about 5 miles to the west. We are now about 6 miles from Aquia Creek and 15 miles from Fredericksburg. What will be our next move, I do not know but will write and let you know. I want to keep the old Major Simmons posted about my whereabouts. I would like it if you would write and tell me how things go about Vail’s Mill and send me a newspaper as often as you can as I am very much in want of reading matter.

Yours, — Daniel Stark

Excuse the poor writing. I write this on a soldier’s knapsack.

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