Henrico County Virginia
“. . . who will man this piece . . .”
Chaffin’s Farm (New Market Heights)
~ September 29, 30 1864 ~

Copyright © 2000, Frederick Smoot. All Rights Reserved.

Patriotic envelope (stamp removed).
Black Circular Postmark (partial):
Backus Ensworth
Oswego Co N Y
Letter’s Author:
Horace Ensworth.
On preprinted “U.S. Christian Commission” letterhead.

Fort Morrise Oct the 8th 1864
Dear Father I now sit down for a few Moments to inform you of our hardship that we have indured in the last 17 days. Well Father the night of the 28gth we left Camp at 8 OClock and went some 5 miles and stoped till 4 OClock on the morn of the 29 then we crosed the Pontoon Bridges and mased our whole Corpse and then started and Marched closed in Mass through the fields and Woods some three milds [miles] & then we come out of the Woods in sight of the rebel fort that stood all of 1ne [one] Mild a crost [across] an Open field where they Opened the shot and shell whitch layed many of our brave men low but one kept Marching toward the fort as though that nothing had happened one got about half a crost the field they opend the grape and cannester [canister] and cut our Men up very bad but they had get started and we was aguing to carry their works or leave evy [every] man -- well Father we mounted their works and of all the running you never saw the but they men finly Pannak [panic] struck and they obitdent [obedient ] stand their ground a tall and they they was heavy guns where we mounted their work and ___ one of them we spiked and a plenty of good ammunition as soons as one had caried the work one of the Genls aide crys out who will man this piece -- I throughed down my rifle and steped to the piece with 4 other men and we turned their own artillery up on them and ____ we didnt make them husle out of their ___ hurry -- I was right to home when we got hold of them big guns -- I remained thare till night and the regt followed them as far as thay could go. Well that Night the 18 Corps though up intrenchments so as to hold the fort -- we worked all Night and all the forenoon and about one OClock they opened upon our pickets and began to drive them in -- this is on the 30th -- the rebels had 4 Brigades closed in mass charged to take their Chairn of works back but they soon found a rather of a warm recption and we slaughtered them prety bad leaving their dead and Wounded for the m[en] to walk over -- they got so clost that they couldent neither take the works nor retreat with loosing all of their men so they threw down their guns and come in to our lines a bringing their colors with them -- three battle flags and we gave them a harty cheer -- Well Father the loss of the 81st Regt in our charge of the 29th and theirs of the 30th was 31 of the Enlisted men and ten of our officers that was killed and Wounded on both days fighting -- the 81 havent got but to[two] officers left besides the Collonerl [Colonel?] and he is in Command of the brigade -- our whole regt is the size of Comp [Company] B when it osweg [Oswego NY] the first time that is 110 men one hundred and ten men in the whole Regt -- let a few more assaults upon the rebels Forte and thay wont be enough to bring the flag from the fields Father the old flag is ridled all into strings but it is a precious piece of property -- Many a brave boy has fallen from in under it but still she rises again and is __ bound to, Just as long as they is a man left of the 81st Regt -- the first on the 29th the flag fell three times before we reached the fort and the only cry was Boys hist up the flag and on the 30 they was another one wounded that carried the colors. Well Father this is our 11 day from camp and all that we have to cover is with is a rebel blanket I brought my overcoat within 30 rods of the Fort and had to through it away and I lost it. If I had hung to the Over Coat I never Would have reached the fort in the world -- a Mild is a long way to run in under a heavy __ Well Father I received your letter the 28th also one from Auny June Sanyes[?] and 1 frome Albie the 6th & one from you the 1st and the Christain Commision come around and I get thease to sheets of paper.from him bu[t] I should of had to of waited till went to camp before I wrtight I dont know where I can get a Envelope to put thtm into-- now I will wright to Abie as soon as I can if you get a chance let her know that the reason why I dont wright to her so she wont bee a worring a bout me.
Well Father if you will send me a pair of buskskin Gloves by Mail I will bee very mutch oblidge to you -- You will have to study to read this poor Letter but it is the best I can do at the present time -- Wright soon ____ as useual -- from your son
Horace B Ensworth to his father Bacus Ensworth
Give my Complyments to all and a shair to your self -- in haste -- Bacus
Ensworth Esq

Horace Ensworth was 21 years old when he enlisted for three years into Co B, 81st NYSV Sept. 28, 1861 at Oswego, New York. He was mustered out as a Sergeant on August 31st, 1865. In a letter (July 4th 1864) Horace tells his father: “I want you to direct your letters to Washington, DC instead of Fortress Monroe, Va.”

From the Collection of Frederick Smoot
Provenance. R. W. Morgan 1998

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