This letter was written by Silas Goddard Emery (1816-1884), the son of Joel Emery (1787-1860) and Lucy Goddard (1797-1878) of Tunbridge, Vermont. Silas enlisted in August 1862 in Co. D, 12th Vermont Infantry for nine month’s service. He was mustered in at Brattleboro on 4 October 1862. When he entered the regiment, he was described as a “44” year-old farmer from Brookfield standing 5′ 5″ tall, with brown eyes and black hair. Due to his age, Silas was made a teamster for much of his time, serving in both Co. D & F. Silas was married to Catherine M. Littlefield (1830-1911) in 1849 and had several children when he entered the service.
Joining the 12th Regiment at the same time was Silas’s younger brother, Leonard Emery (1829-1884). At the time of his enlistment, Leonard was described as a 32 year-old farmer, standing 5′ 9″ tall, with a dark complexion, black eyes, and black hair.
Silas wrote this letter to his brother, Edson and Philo Emery, who were serving in Co. E, 2nd Vermont Infantry. Edson & Philo were detailed on fatigue duty at Belle Plain Landing at the time following the Battle of Fredericksburg. When this letter was written, four Emery brothers were in the Union army at the same time while their mother, a 66 year-old, semi-literate widow, remained at home and attended to the family farm with the assistance of hired hands.
January 13, 1863
It has been some time since I wrote you. My health is good and hope yours is. I have been detailed as teamster for the Brigade—a permanent thing. I like it first rate. I have a good man with me to help me.
Catherine’s health has been very poor but she is getting better. Mary is with Mother—this until going to school. Catherine and I have wrote to you [and] Philo three or four times and have not received a letter from you. That is the reason why we have not wrote to you before. I think of you and Edson every day. You have had a hard time in a buy what I have seen.
I ain’t with the regiment. I board with the teamsters at the court house. I have a good board. I like it better than carrying a gun. The war never will be closed by fighting in this world. Our time is out the 22 of May. We have not had any pay since we enlisted. I wish you could come and see us this winter.
I drive four mules—a splendid team. Leonard is tough. He was over to see me this morning. Our regiment is a mile from here. They have got some nice quarters. Catharine would like to have you and Philo write to her if you are so disposed.
I don’t like to be a soldier. I didn’t think it should come to this but we can’t tell what awaits us. I think you have been [ ] Boys that your health and lives have been spared when so many have gone. We have lost 9 out of our regiment since we left home.
I have not much else to write. I hate to write a letter [but] I thought it my duty to write you and so I went into it. I hear from home twice a week most of the time. Don’t wait for me to write, boys, for I have to write home often [and] that is about all I can do. I had a line from home the other day. It was first rate good.
I am fatting up enough. I lost 18 pounds after I came out here but I am gaining. My health is first rate good. The Boys are awful homesick, some of them. It is pretty dull times in Vermont this winter. It is hard times everywhere.
I wish you might come home this spring for I think you have been in the service long enough. I should like to hear from you. Write me when it is convenient.
Yours in love, — Silas Emery
To Edson & Philo Emery
I hope you will excuse bad writing. I think we shall stay here all winter but may move in a week. Good luck to you boys, till I see you.