This letter was written by Sgt. William Long (1834-1863), the son of William and Catherine Long of New York City. In 1850, 15 year-old William was enumerated in the household of saddle maker, Edward Sniffin (possibly a cousin) in Rye, Westchester county, New York. In 1860, he was enumerated in the household of Epenetus Sniffin or Sniffen (1795-1876), a harness maker, in Greenwich, Fairfield county, Connecticut. It was while here, working as a harness maker, that William met and later married Ophelia Mead, the daughter of Daniel S. Mead (1778-1831) and Huldah Mead (1812-1882) of Greenwich.
William and Ophelia were married on 16 September 1861 — the same day William marched off to join his comrades in Co. I, 10th Connecticut Infantry. Two years later — on 11 August 1863, William died of dysentery on Morris Island, South Carolina. It took the war department fourteen months to approve the widow’s pension application filed by Ophelia.
William wrote this letter to his brother-in-law, Isaac L. Mead (1834-1913), who was married to Ophelia’s younger sister, Esther Amelia Mead (1836-1920). The letter was written in July 1862, a month before Isaac enlisted in Co. I, 17th Connecticut Infantry.
Newbern [North Carolina]
July 15th 1862
I would like to have a letter from you so I thought the only way to get one would be to send you one. I hear from you often and of your welfare through Ophelia but I would like to hear direct. I want to know about [your son] Willis and the other one. How have you been? Have you enjoyed your usual health. Is the weather very warm with you. We have it here about 100 in the shade.
There is no war news to tell you from here. Almost all of the troops have gone from here with Burnside toward Richmond and will probably help take the hornet’s nest. My brother Charles has gone, I think, with a battery with which he was connected as a blacksmith. He was detached from the 11th Connecticut.
When we first came to Newbern, I might have got some rebel brass horns for your brass band in Greenwich if I had been wide awake, and then Isaac, all that you would have had to do would have been to provide men to blow. The rebels left a great many things in their tents when they left. The government has ordered all valuable things to be given to it [but] a great many things were sent home before a stop was put to it. I saw a fine piano boxed up for shipping laying out in the middle of the street for about a week. It was finally taken care of by the authorities. Many officers sent home valuable articles.
John Kinney is getting along well down in New Orleans. He will soon be a Lieutenant of they promote in the 13th [Connecticut Infantry] the same as they do in the 10th. John will make a good officer and is quite smart, though funny.
Our Orderly is sick (William Marshall) and Bennie has to act in his place. Bennie would make a good Orderly. He understands himself and the business very well. I wish he had been appointed instead of Marshall. There is more to be done by the Orderly than any other officer in the company. He is exempt from guard duty and partly from drills though.
We go in bathing every evening. It is very fine. The water is quite warm. The whole company go together. The shore is sandy making a fine place.
What is the prospect of recruiting in Greenwich? Do you think we could get any to fill up our company? There are quite a number that I can now think of that I should think would come but I rather guess they will have to be drove to it. You must make Willis grow faster and then rig him up for 2 years campaign. Be sure, Esther, and put 3 days rations in his haversack. We have often been ordered to put 3 days rations in our haversacks but I never could get in but two and was always sure to have more the third day.
I hope ‘ere this reaches you that Richmond will be ours and the Rebs driven from their last ditch. We must look for help from above. We of ourselves can do nothing against this great rebellion but labor and pray and our cause will and must succeed. Please remember me to Mr. & Mrs, Jonas Mead & Rev. Mr. & Mrs. Mark Mead. Also to sister Lucretia. I am well.
Yours truly & affectionately, — William Long