1863: Isaac Ackerman Hopper to Aunt

Background

This letter was written by Isaac Ackerman Hopper (1843-1927), the son of Henry Andriese Hopper (1819-1912) and Helen Ackerman (1823-1851).  Isaac enlisted as a private in Co. E, 22nd New Jersey Infantry in September 1862. He mustered out with the company on 25 June 1863 after nine-month’s service at Trenton, New Jersey.

Isaac wrote the letter to his aunt, most likely Elisabeth Hopper (1801-1878), the wife of Cornelius Abraham Hopper (1797-1880) of Bergen county, New Jersey.

On 25 Nov 1868, Isaac A. Hopper, 26, of Small Lots married his third cousin, Mary Hopper, 26 of Paramus, daughter of Garret S. and Sophia.

The 22nd Infantry was organized at Camp Delaware in Trenton, New Jersey, and mustered in September 22, 1862. On September 29, they left state for Washington, D.C., where they were attached to Abercrombie’s Provisional Brigade, Casey’s Division, Defenses of Washington, to December, 1862. Patrick’s Command, Provost Guard, Army of the Potomac, to January, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to June, 1863.

Duty in the Defenses of Washington until November, 1862. Moved to Aquia Creek, Va., and duty there guarding railroad until January, 1863. Moved to Belle Plains and Joined Army of the Potomac January 10, 1863. “Mud March” January 20-24. Duty at Belle Plains until April 27. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Operations at Pollock’s Mill Creek April 29-May 2. Battle of Chancellorsville May 2-5. Ordered home for muster out June, reaching Trenton June 22, Mustered out June 22, 1863.

Abraham Garrison Demarest was commissioned as Major of the 22nd New Jersey Volunteer Infantry on September 9, 1862, he served as second in command of the unit through the December 1862 Fredericksburg Campaign, due to the fact that the unit’s originally appointed Colonel, Cornelius Fornet, was objected to by the men and citizens of Bergen County that Fornet decided to ignore the appointment, and did not serve. Internal regimental factional strife, and faction conflict from the regiment’s home area induced Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Douglas, in command since September 1862, to resign in disgust. Major Demarest was promoted to Colonel of the unit, which he led in the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, and through to their muster out of service on June 25, 1863.

See also — 1862: Garret C. Hopper to Hester Ann (Hopper) Van Riper

TRANSCRIPTION

Camp in a Cornfield
Via near Belle Plains Landing

Dear Aunt,

I received yours of the 28th a few days after date and I was very glad to hear that you were all well and enjoying good health. I feel very thankful to say that my health has thus far been spared. I never felt better in my life.

Garry is well again. He came in off picket yesterday (Thursday). When you go on picket, you have to take 2 or 3 days rations in your haversacks. One days rations is 10 crackers, a small piece of pork, and 2 spoon full of coffee and one of sugar. They stay out for 2 days and 2 nights. The first day and night, half of the men go on their posts while the other half lays about 5 hundred yards to the rear — these are called reserves. And the next morning, the first half falls back and those that are on the reserve take their place so that each has his turn.

Our pickets generally go out 4 or 5 miles. We don’t have to climb many fences here in Virginia, but the hills — Oh dear! They beat the duce.

There has been considerable promotions and resignations in our regiment since we arrived in Virginia. Our Lieut. Col. [Alexander] Douglass has resigned in which the whole regiment rejoiced for he was a regular shyster and Lieut. [George] Kingsland [Jr. of Co. H] — he is a coward. He has resigned and is gone home. When we was in Camp Fornett, he was so tired there. He wanted to fight so bad. And when we came where there was some chance for it, he got sick and the first thing I knew, Kingsland had sent in his resignation which was granted him and he left for home. Thus for an answer, we have coward and a damn big blower for Kingsland. You can find out what a man is when he comes to Old Virginia. That’s whats the matter.

Now I will try and tell Cornely [Cornelius?] how we wash our clothes. I sometimes tie mine fast to an old canal boat and let them drag through the water a mile or two and then we hang them in the top of a tree to dry. We are about 3 hundred yards from the river. Our camp is quite a high hill and we have a splendid view of the river.

There went a raid out from our side this week. I have not heard from them since. The Colonel of the 31st is with them.

There has died two out of our company [Co. E] this week. They are both from Lodi [Bergen county, New Jersey]. They are Sergeant [Adrian] Hughs and Private [William] Henry Dykeman. Hughs died in Washington ¹; Dykeman [on 22 March] in [the] Camp Hospital. We sent him yesterday morning.

No more at present but remain yours the same as ever, — I. A. Hopper, Esq.


¹ Sgt. Adrian Hughes died of typhoid fever at Judiciary Square, U. S. Army General Hospital in Washington D. C. on 27 February 1863.

There were two photographs included with this letter and the one linked in the background material:

The tintype is unidentified. The CDV has the name Ira C. Smalley written under the image. The only IRA Smalley I can find in this time period was Ira Smalley (1839-1885) of Co. C, 49th Ohio Infantry. If this is the same Ira Smalley, I don’t know why he would be with this collection or why he would have had a photograph taken in New Jersey.

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