This letter was written by Brayton D. Burdick (1841-1921) who enlisted at age 20 in August 1862 at Richland, New York, to serve three years as a fifer in Co. B (later Co. K) of the 110th New York Infantry. Brayton — or “Brate” — was the son of Daniel Joseph Burdick (1818-1871) and Rhoda Lucinda Slater (1812-1844).
Brayton wrote the letter from Key West, Florida, to his uncle, Rev. Ransom Allen Burdick (1827-1900), of Albion, Oswego county, New York. Brayton also wished the letter to be shared with Ransom’s wife, Gratia A. Burdick (1828-1869) and his grandparents, Elias and Phebe (Pearce) Burdick.
The 110th New York Infantry was an Oswego county regiment, organized at Oswego, and mustered into the U. S. service for three years, Aug. 25, 1862. It left the state on the 29th, proceeding to Baltimore, where it was stationed until Nov., 1862, when it was ordered to New Orleans, and early in 1863 was assigned to Emory’s division of the 19th corps. Its first experience under fire was at Fort Bisland, and at Franklin it had 12 killed and wounded. It took part in the long siege of Port Hudson and shared in the grand assault of June 14. The total loss of the regiment during the siege was 37 killed, wounded and missing. Its last battle was at Vermillion bayou, La., in Nov. 1863, where it lost 6 killed and wounded. In Feb., 1864, it was ordered to Fort Jefferson, Fla. The regiment was mustered out at Albany, under Col. Hamilton, Aug. 28, 1865.
Key West [Florida]
Sunday, April 3rd 1864
Dear Uncle, Aunt, Grandad & Grandma,
This morning just as I had got through with inspection and got ready for church, the mail came. Lo and behold, there was one for Brate from Rant and I have looked for it a good while and it came at last. Dummell & I was glad to hear that you were well. Yesterday I was made glad by seeing Myron ¹ come to quarters. Ira ² is on the Dry Tortugas. Now maybe I would not like to see him. I guess he will get a pass and come over here and see me.
Well, Uncle Rant, how goes the times anyhow? I spect you are head over heels in spring work now. I would kinder like to put my hand to the plow but don’t see as I can this spring. Never mind. We are on the last half of the down beat & I hope the war will be over so we can sing the rest through the rest of the piece after this measure.
April 4th. No use writing it all in one day so long as there is no mail boat going to York. Uncle Rant, “don’t you want” (as Grandad says) to go over to Parish and see Johnathan Prish. By so doing, you can get 40 dollars in greenbacks that I sent to him. I would not have sent it off 1400 miles from any land or any water if I could have done any different. But you see there is no Adams Express on this island. So the Capt. got a check of the Paymaster for us. We had 4 months pay. I wish the Paymaster had stayed away till next month for we could have got 6 month’s pay then. We are paid to the first of March. The Paymaster comes to this place only once in 6 months so if we stay here, you won’t have to go off to Parish very soon again.
Our Old Drum Major Tom Lake ³ was here a week or two ago (he belongs to Scott’s 900 which has gone to New Orleans). He had a sort of pluck and onions song which I wrote off in a great hurry.
Aunt Gratia, you are a good hand to write every time. I would like to know how Albert Briggs and Mary Ann gets along. The Lord knows I am glad that Bill and Mary get along so well. On the whole, I guess they’ve both done the best things they could. Does Grandfather preach down to the west meeting house yet? I mean to try and send you wood for a fiddle head and back before we go away from here. This is a dry place for news. There ain’t a great deal of land to the acre here. Fish for breakfast, fish for dinner, all the fish we want.
I shall vote for Old Abe.
¹ Undoubtedly Myron E. Russell of Richland, New York, who enlisted in August 1862 as a drummer in Co. B (later Co. K), 110th New York Infantry. He died on 28 June 1864 at Key West, Florida.
² Possibly Ira West who enlisted in August 1862 at Sandy Creek to serve as a musician in Co. H, 110th New York Infantry. He was discharged on 19 August 1863 at New Orleans.
³ Thomas H. Lake of Oswego enlisted August 1862 as Drum Major of the 110th New York Infantry and was discharged by general order No. 126 but retained in the service until March 1863. He re-enlisted in Co. C, 11th New York Cavalry (“Scott’s 900”) and was discharged in January 1865.