These letters were written by members of the Swineford family of Jefferson county, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War. At least thirteen children were born to Israel Swineford (1808-1855) and Mary E. Baughman [Bachman or Bockmen] (1810-1885) of Brookville. After Israel died in 1855, his wife “contracted” a second marriage with Jacob Liebendorfer, 22 years her junior.
The children of Israel and Mary Swineford — reaching maturity — included: Lucinda, who became the wife of Henry Millron, died in 1904; George resides near Erie; Catherine is the widow of Samuel C. Brown and resides at New Castle, Pa.; William was twenty-four years of age at his death, when an enlisted soldier of a Pennsylvania regiment in the Civil War; David also was a soldier and died in the service at Alexandria, Va.; Thusenelda [1841-1841] is the wife of David Liebendorfer of New Castle; Elizabeth, the widow of Cassius West, resides at New Castle, as do also Hannah, who is a widow, Mrs. Waggoner, and her next younger brother, Israel. Shelumiel is the only representative of his generation now in Jefferson county. [Source: Jefferson County, Pennsylvania — Her Pioneers and People by William James McKnight (1917]
Three of these five letters were written by George W. Swineford, one by his younger brother Shelumiel Swineford, and one by his Aunt Elizabeth Bachman.
This letter was written by George W. Swineford (1834-1923) of Co. B, 111th Pennsylvania Infantry. George was the son Israel Swineford (1808-1855) and Mary E. Baughman [Bachman or Bockmen] (1810-1885) of Brookville, Jefferson county, Pennsylvania. This letter was written from Camp Reed, near Erie, Pennsylvania, where the regiment assembled and drilled from 2 September 1861 until the 24th of January 1862 when they were transported to the Eastern Theatre. He wrote the letter to his younger sister Thusenelda Liebendorfer who was still living with his mother and her second husband.
January 7, 1862
I received a letter from [brother-in-law] Samuel Brown and found a letter in the same envelope from [sister] Elizabeth Swineford — a letter that she sent to Sam Brown’s and she said that [brother] David Swineford ¹ was dead. She did not say what was the cause of his death or where he died or whether he was killed in a battle. And if he is dead, I should be very glad to hear the particulars. I must tell you that our little niece Mary Allis Brown is dead. She died on the 25th of December. I received a letter from Browns. They are all well.
I am in good health. I have gained 8 lbs. since I enlisted. My weight is 175 lbs. I enlisted November 7, 1861. I belong to the One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. I am in a company mostly from Tidioute [Warren county, PA]. I am well acquainted with about 20 of our company. I was to Tidioute on New Years on a visit. I found everything all right in Tidioute.
If you know where [brother] Shelumiel ² is, please let me know. This is the hardest place to write that I ever got into. There are about 90 of us and all young men and there is more noise than a little. You could hardly hear a drum.
I have not time to write any more. I send my best respects to Father, Mother, Brothers, and Sisters and all enquiring friends. Write soon for we will leave here before long.
Direct to Camp Reed, Erie County, Pa.
Yours as ever, — G. W. Swineford
to Thusenelda Liebendorfer
Direct in care of Captain A[rthur] Corrigan ³
¹ David C. Swineford (1839-1861) was one of 13 children born to Israel Swineford and Mary E. Baughman of Knox township, Jefferson county, Pennsylvania. David died of disease on 15 November 1861 at Alexandria, Virginia, while serving as a corporal in Co. G, 105th Pennsylvania Infantry.
² Shelumiel Swineford (1843-1928) was one of 13 children born to Israel Swineford and Mary E. Baughman of Knox township, Jefferson county, Pennsylvania. Shelumiel enlisted at age 19 on 15 August 1862 as a sergeant in Co. I, 148th Pennsylvania Infantry. Scelumiel was with his regiment in the battles at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and in the Overland Campaign of 1864. He was mustered out of the service in June 1865.
³ Capt. Arthur Corrigan was killed during the fighting at Antietam on 17 September 1862.
This letter was written by George W. Swineford (1834-1923) of Co. B, 111th Pennsylvania Infantry. George was the son Israel Swineford (1808-1855) and Mary E. Baughman [Bachman or Bockmen] (1810-1885) of Brookville, Jefferson county, Pennsylvania. This letter was written from Camp McKim, near Baltimore, Maryland. He wrote the letter to his younger sister Thusenelda Liebendorfer who was still living with his mother and her second husband.
April 2, 1862
I received your letter of March 16th. I also received your Messenger and was glad to hear from you. That paper is a very good one and if I was at some place where I was settled, I should subscribe for that paper.
I am with the regiment now. For the last two weeks our company and Company F have been stationed at other places to guard government property. Last Saturday there was 80 men chosen out of the regiment to take two hundred and 36 Rebel prisoners to Fort Delaware — 50 miles down the Delaware Bay from Philadelphia. These Rebels was taken at the Battle of Winchester, Va. about 10 days ago. I was one of the men that was chosen and I had a good time going to Fort Delaware. We had 2 hundred and 36 Rebel prisoners. There was captains, lieutenants, and other officers. These Rebels was the hardest looking men that I ever saw. Among the 200 and 36 there was not 3 that was dressed alike and there was several among them that was in the Bull Run fight. But they are safe now. ¹
Last week I was to the National Hospital. There I saw a number of soldiers that was wounded — 8 or 10 that was wounded in the Bull Run fight [and] one that was shot through the shoulder and another through the arm and some in the body and some at one place and some another. And last week there was one carload of wounded come to Baltimore and there are wounded soldiers that come to Baltimore every few days.
I seen 2 of them iron boats that was in the battle at Newport News. Both was struck by balls from the Merrimack — the Rebel steamer.
There was one man that got his arm shot off last Saturday morning. It was an accident. The man’s name was Washington White. ² He was from Warren County, Pa.
Thusenelda, I had a likeness that I have had since last spring and I did not want it so I sent it to you — or started it at least. And be sure and tell me how many postage stamps there was on it. I sent it to the office and did not know how many stamps it would take. The mail boy said that it just took all I sent.
— G. W. Swineford to Miss Thusenelda
A few words to Lizzie. I am much obliged to you for the few words you gave me. I am very glad to see that you can write so well and Hannah must be so that she could write a letter and I should like to see some of her writing. Lizzie, you must be a good girl. Learn to read, write, cypher, and study grammar for you have no idea how people get along that cannot write or read. Give my love to Father and Mother and all enquiring friends.
Yours as ever, — G. W .Swineford
¹ A letter by James T. Miller of the 111th Pennsylvania published in the book, “Bound to be a Soldier: The Letters of Private James T. Miller” by James Todd Miller et. al. (page 12), tells us even more of the transport of these Rebel prisoners. Miller was also among the 80 men selected from the 11th Pennsylvania to escort the prisoners to Fort Delaware. He claimed the prisoners were taken “by Shields at Winchester one week ago last Sunday. They were sent to Baltimore and confined in the new jail but the secessionists made so much fuss that General Dix ordered them to be sent to Fort Delaware…and our regiment was ordered to furnish eighty men to guard them on the journey from Baltimore to the fort…[As the Rebels were being transported from the jail to the railroad depot,] the women cheered for Jeff Davis and said God bless the Virginians — the prisoners were all Virginians. I never thought that I should feel like shooting a woman but if our officers had given us orders to fire, I would have shot some of the women of Baltimore if I could have held my gun steady enough…”
² Pvt. Washington G. White died at Baltimore on 10 May 1862 according to the regimental roster but gives no details as to the accident. Swineford’s letter, however, suggests that Pvt. White died on 29 March 1862. White is buried in Loomis Cemetery, Grand Valley, Warren county, Pennsylvania. He was 30 years old at the time of his death.
This letter was written by Elizabeth H. Swineford Bachman (1789-1876), the daughter of George Michael and Hannah Stahl Swineford of Snyder county, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth was married to John Bachman (1772-1876).
Kratzerville [Snyder county, Pennsylvania]
June 16, 1862
I sit down to write a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and Mother is tolerable well and I get the rheumatism so that I can’t do hard work and I hope that these few lines find you all well and the reason I have not answered your letter so long is because I did not know where to direct. I did look for you long ago that you would come in this spring to settle his matters for they ____ want to have her money and I can’t afford to pay it out of my pocket and his books and things in New Berlin. Don’t expect much and he told me that he had two lots in Gaway and I want you to see about it for i would like to have the thing settled up. I have paid his coffin in March — seven dollars for it.
About that likeness that Thusenelda sent in his letter, I ____ but it is too heavy to send it by mail and I _____ some time this summer. You and _____ and then you can have the likeness and bring your Mother along if possible for I sent him some money too and I live in hope to get it again. We can’t do nothing with his things ___ someone administers and that costs thirty dollars and I don’t think that his things are worth more than that.
Mr. & Mrs. Liebendorfer and Thusenelda and try someone or all and come in sometime this summer or this fall. Let me know about George. I have heard nothing of him so long. Let me know whether he went to war or not.
Well, dear Sister, it makes me much trouble. I would like to have his things all right if I send out to the street, it seems to me if I can’t see him come and I hope that they _____. Write soon.
Your affectionate sister, — Elizabeth Bochmen
This letter was written by Sgt. Shelumiel Swineford (1843-1928) — one of 13 children born to Israel Swineford and Mary E. Baughman of Knox township, Jefferson county, Pennsylvania. Shelumiel enlisted at age 19 on 15 August 1862 as a sergeant in Co. I, 148th Pennsylvania Infantry. He was mustered out of the service in June 1865. This letter was written just prior to the Battle of Antietam from Cockeysville, Maryland where they guarded the Northern Central Railroad until 9 December 1862.
[Camp within 13 miles of Baltimore, Maryland]
September 11th 1862
I have seated myself to let you know that I am well at the present time hoping that these few lines will find you in the same health. I am now in the State of Maryland within 13 miles of Baltimore. I don’t know what the name of this camp is or what county or anything else but I know that I am in the service. There is a little village near the place but I don’t know what the name of it is. We came here by railroad. We are in camp right by the railroad. We can see the cars from our tent. we came here yesterday in the afternoon. There are 2 regiments here in this camp. I don’t know how soon we will leave here. Some said we would leave today but it is unknown by me. If we leave here, we will go to Baltimore.
I have only been on guard once since I left home. I like a soldier’s life very well so far and I hope that I will not get tired of it till this war is over. It went very hard to leave some that I had to leave behind me but I thought it was my duty to support this Union.
About that money of [brother] David’s, I got 10 dollars from [his] Capt. [John A.] Freas. He promised to send the rest to Brookville but he did not send it. That bill or receipt that you sent to me, I gave to Lucinda. The last letter I got of you I got the day we left.
We have got our uniforms and we have got rifles where before I had the old Harper’s Ferry musket. We have each man 2 coats, 1 pair pants, 2 pair drawers, 1 shirt, 2 pair socks, 1 pair shoes, 1 good blanket, and 1 oilcloth blanket. We are all in reasonable good health. That is the greatest blessing which we can receive.
We heard the cannons roar this morning but we don’t know whether it was in battle or not. I would have wrote to you sooner but we have a hard way of writing so you must excuse me. I have a great many to write to and this is only the third letter which I have wrote. While I was at Harrisburg I bought me a pocket bible which I intend to keep with me as long as I am able to carry it. You need not write till you get another from me for I don’t know anything about the directions.
Nothing more at present. I send my best respects to all enquiring friends if any you find. — S[helumiel] Swineford
This letter was written by George W. Swineford (1834-1923) of Co. B, 111th Pennsylvania Infantry. George was the son Israel Swineford (1808-1855) and Mary E. Baughman [Bachman or Bockmen] (1810-1885) of Brookville, Jefferson county, Pennsylvania. This letter was written from Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. The 111th Pennsylvania arrived in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry on 22 September 1862 and relieved Sumner’s Corps on Bolivar Heights on 30 October 1862. George wrote the letter to his younger sister Thusenelda Liebendorfer who was still living with his mother and her second husband.
Harper’s Ferry, Va.
October 30th 1862
Dear Sister and Friends at Home,
I received your welcome letter dated October 20th and was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you are well. From what I could learn from your letter, Henry Millison must be at home. I should like to know if he got his discharge. There are a good many that get their discharges now but I should like to see the war ended before I get my discharge. Only 9 days more and I will have one year put in and if I have good luck, I will stand it 2 years longer.
I was not at Harper’s Ferry the time that Colonel [Dixon Stansbury] Miles surrendered the place to the Rebels. Miles was a traitor or the Rebels could have never taken Harper’s Ferry. You wanted to know how many soldiers we had at Harper’s Ferry. That I could not tell you but there are so many that a person can scarcely get round for soldiers. There are soldiers almost every direction that a man can look and if a man was to travel 10 miles he could find one camp after the other.
You said something about our fare. It is hard — nothing but hard crackers, a little salt, fat bacon, [and] sometimes a little fresh beef and a few beans. There are some soldiers that sleep out of doors without a blanket or tent but they generally keep good fires. We have had some cold nights here this fall but I have always had a good bed — that is, for the army. I have had a good chance to buy good bread and we had to pay 40 cents per lb. for butter, and the sutlers would charge from 30 to 40 cents per lb. for cheese, and potatoes 2.50 to 3.00 dollars per bushel, and everything in proportion.
There will be some fighting done here before long. I am getting lonesome on account of not hearing the cannons roar in the last 2 weeks. There are a good many sick soldiers here now. There is some talk of us staying in Harper’s Ferry this [winter] and if we stay here, we shall have good warm tents and have everything fixed up to the handle.
I must close by telling you that my health is still improving and I hope that before long I will be as well as ever. I must close. I send my respects to Mother and Father and all the rest and hope that if we may never meet on earth that we may all meet in heaven.
Your brother, — G. W. Swineford
Direct to Washington D. C. for I will get the letters one day earlier than if you would direct to this place.