This letter was written by Pvt. George Ventress (1842-1913) of Co. C, 123rd Pennsylvania Infantry — a nine months’ regiment. The regiment left Harrisburg on 21 August 1862 for Washington and was at once ordered to Camp Stanton. As George’s letter states, the regiment was marched to a camp near Alexandria on 27 August 1862 and during the 2nd Battle of Bill Run, it was posted at Bailey’s Crossroads to prevent stragglers from passing. Late on the afternoon of Sept. 17 it was sent to Antietam, but was too late to participate in the battle which was not continued as expected on the next day. The regiment then proceeded to Warrenton with the army and encamped at Potomac creek, near Fredericksburg, until Dec. 12. On the afternoon of the next day it was ordered into action and charged the heights, but unsuccessfully as had the previous divisions, the loss of the regiment being 152 killed and wounded. Returning to the former camp, it remained there until Jan., 1863, when it moved to Falmouth, and on April 28, started for Chancellorsville, where on May 1, it was posted on the left of the line, which was not engaged. On the 3d it was placed in support of the artillery and met with a few losses. The 123d was mustered out of the service at Harrisburg on May 13, 1863.
The Rev. John B. Clark — pastor of the 2nd United Presbyterian Church in Allegheny — helped organize the 123rd Pennsylvania and was made its Colonel.
After mustering out of the 123rd Pennsylvania Infantry, George enlisted in Hampton’s Battery F, Pennsylvania Light Artillery. After the war, Ventress married Elizabeth Ford (18xx-1901). He was a carpenter by vocation.
Camp near Alexandria [Virginia]
August 28th 1862
I sit down to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope that these few lines will find you the same. We got marching orders yesterday to move. We packed up and left in the direction of Washington about a mile and a half. We got there and started to pitch our tents and got about half of them up and we got orders to move again. All was down in about 10 minutes and started for Alexandria. We stopped within a mile of it.
This is a warm day. There is no shade in this camp. Our other camp was in an orchard. It was about 300 yards off of Fort Richinson [Richardson]. Col. [John B.] Clark preached a sermon to us last Sunday. He took his text in the 91st Psalm. Our chaplain [H. L. Chapman] is with us now. It would take more than 1 to keep some few of these fellows quiet.
I don’t think we will stop here long. I think we are going to take a trip on the waters. I have not yet received an answer from Pap. We have 3 other regiments with us. We are all well. Tell Aunt Canal that Billy will wait to see where we are going before he writes.
Give my respects to all.
Nothing more at present but remain [your] brother, — George Ventress