1863: Daniel Andrew Handy to Jennie Adaline Raworth

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Some boys of the 2nd Rhode Island

This letter was written by Daniel Andrew Handy (1843-1888) of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He enlisted on 6 June 1861 as a private in Co. F, 2nd Rhode Island Infantry. He was promoted to corporal on 21 March 1863 and reenlisted on 26 December 1863. After he was wounded (right foot) in the Battle of the Wilderness on 5 May 1864, he was transferred to Co. B, Veteran organization. He mustered out on 8 July 1865.

Daniel was the son of John M. Handy (1815-1864) and Sarah Ann Titus (1813-1852). John Handy, a native of Bristol, Massachusetts, was a stone mason and residing in Burlington, Kansas in 1862 when he enlisted in Co. F, 12th Kansas Infantry at the age of 47. He died at Fort Scott, Kansas, on 28 June 1864.

Daniel wrote the letter to his sweetheart Jemima (“Jennie”) Adaline Raworth (1841-1913). The couple married on 18 February 1864 at Boston, Massachusetts.

The Second Rhode Island Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment composed of volunteers from the state of Rhode Island that served with the Union Army in the American Civil War. They, along with the 1st Rhode Island, wore a very simple uniform. The uniform composed of a dark blue jacket like shirt, tannish grey pants, and a dark blue chasseur kepi. The 2nd Rhode Island also wore havelocks in the beginning of the war, but after finding them useless they discarded them.

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TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Miss Jennie A. Raworth, Pawtucket, R. I.

Camp near Brandy Station, Va.
December 20th [1863]

My Darling Jennie,

I now set myself to write again to the object of my fondest hopes. Eleven long and weary days have passed and yet no glad tidings from thee, the girl I adore. Jennie, why is it? Something is wrong. Alas, I don’t get the loving letters. But I hope from the heart that yearns for thee to hear from thee tonight.

Since my last writing, not much has occurred worthy of note except day before yesterday, 2 men were shot for deserting. They belonged to the 2nd Division of our Corps. God forbid I ever shall see such a sight again — to see two brother soldiers brought out upon a lot and kneeled upon their coffins and shot to death is truly a heart-rending sight. Often upon the battlefield have I seen horrid sights but none so heart-rending. The boys are in a terrible rage about it but of course it amounts to nothing. But again, it is the only way to put a stop to deserting. They are bound to make an example in every outfit, and they have now I believe.¹

We expect to move to Warrenton again tomorrow but may not. It is terrible cold here now. The rain storm cleared up night before last and set in cold as fun. The great changes in the weather here has caused many colds of which I am a participant. But the soldiers mind not for colds — they go and come as they please.

Day before yesterday — also yesterday — they read of orders from War Department in regard to reenlistment. They give 400 dollars bounty and an immediate furlough for 30 days. And if the ¾’s of the regt. or company shall reenlist, they shall go to their native state and recruit and an while there, to have the furlough aforesaid. Today the order from the Governor of Rhode Island was read to the companies. He also gives 300 dollars and urges us to reenlist. But what do you say, darling? Shall Daniel reenlist? I guess not, love. I fancy I hear Jennie, my Dearest, [say] don’t enlist again. Now loved one, it is near time for inspection. 4½ o’clock and I must close for this time. I shall not seal this before 8 o’clock at which time the mail comes and if I get a letter, I will add a few lines to this, and if not I shall drop this in the office.

Now dear, I bid thee for a short time adieu. Please write soon and relieve thy lover of this load of suspense.

From your lover — Daniel



¹ The two soldiers executed by firing squad for desertion on 18 December 1863 at Brandy Station, Virginia, were Winslow N. Allen of the 76th New York Infantry and George E. Blowers of the 2nd Vermont Infantry.

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