Theodore M. Davis was born in Oswego County, N.Y., and enlisted in the city of
Fulton. He died in late summer of 1864 and is buried in Arlington National
The first three letters are written by Theodore Davis, the fourth is written by family
Rice informing Mrs. Adeline Davis of her husband's death.
The Civil War community is grateful to Theodore's great great grandson, Wesley E. Davis, for sharing these letters.
Virginia June 4, 1864 My Dear Wife, I am spared to write you once more. You think it a long time I am sure but you must know that I have not much time to write. We marched and counter marched 14 days and part of the nights without any rest and last Wednesday the first day of June commenced our first real battle. We charged through a swamp drove the Rebs from three lines of rifle pits and now hold them under a tremendous fire all the time. They have tried to retake them but we are bound to hold them. I have been right under their fire all the time until today when I came down here to the with Lieut. Harmon and C. Duele who are sick. The balls flew around me thick and fast but not one has touched me yet. You no doubt have heard before this Gen. Meade complemented us on our charge. But all this was not done without loss. A good many of our brave boys fell all around me. I expect to go back to the Regiment today. We have not had any pay yet. You must keep up courage as I do rely on providence for the future. I am safe so far and will be as careful as I can and do my duty. How I am going to come out yet as to my papers I do not know. I am going to try to find out today. They are so busy with wounded you have scarce can get anything done. I hope it won't last this way long. I have written you a number of letters. Whether you received them or not I do not know. We have not much chance to send them. I have received but one from you since I left the battery the one I directed. I have written you since that. Have not received any from Charley but we expect a mail every day. You must tell Charley I will write him soon as I can. You all know this is a terrible time but I put my trust in providence. The Lord will provide. You must do the best you can. I think you can keep from suffering. I have 100(dollars) coming to me. I will send as soon as I can. It is pretty dry weather now here. Meade says we are going through certain. We had 7 siege guns come up last night called the 7 sisters. They mean to open on them today. Give my compliments to Mr. Rice and Charley. We are now in the Third Division 2nd Brigade 6th Army Corps (formerly Gen. Sedgwicks) now under Gen. Wright. You must direct 9th N.Y.V. artillery by the way of Washington D.C. Write soon, I remain your affectionate T.M.D.
6th Corps. Hospital, City Point, Va. August 6th, 1864 Dear Father, I wrote you the 27th and then did not think I would be here at present but I am about well again and don't have it as hard here as I would at the regiment. I am doing guard duty now guarding prisoners but want to go to the regiment. It is almost impossible to find out if we are going or not. There has got to be enough kept here for duty. The weather is extremely warm and dry, scarcely a green herb to be seen. I see by the papers that lists of prices at the north. It must be pretty close times and the crops can't be much according to accounts of the drought. But what will the end be. I have made up my mind not to write home much war news or have anything to say about politics. I read the newspaper reports about the battles and it only is the best part. 9 times out of 10 there is not much truth about them. I know this to be a fact nor will the government let them tell it as it is. Now for instance, the blowing up of that Ft. (Fort). They partly succeeded on the start but the end was a most disastrous defeat. Burnside lost 4000 killed and wounded, one whole brigade made prisoners, a lot of artillery and his first 2 lines of works. Why don't the papers tell it so. I firmly believe that fighting never will end this war and the quicker our northern people open their eyes the sooner they will see. This Army is dwindling away fast and here where I am is a good chance to see it. You can hear the dead march played all times of the day and strings of ambulances coming in daily. The 6th Corps. Artillery and Wagon Train are leaving for Washington today. Part of the Corps. is at Frederick City and my regiment is at Ft. Reno 6 miles from Washington. The Johnneys appear to have a good time around Maryland and Pennsylvania. I'll bet they live high. It is auful warm. I could not get out at all if I was a fat as I used to be. I will tell you a little story what happened me after I had been sick about 3 weeks. I was laying on my bed and it so happened I looked down and saw my leg and I actually had to raise up and feel before I could make myself believe it was mine. I thought someone had put a leg in my bed. I did not know it. I received a letter from Add yesterday and must say I feel greatly rejoiced to hear from home and that they are well. I thought the children would get sick but she says they stand the warm weather well and haint been sick a day. I feel glad about that but if provisions keeps raising which I think they will I don't know about feeding them. I guess the north will starve out first. I can't think or imagine what the consequence is going to be. It will be bad enough for it is that now and I don't see any signs of their being any nearer whipped than they was 3 years ago and I think Grant ought to have more sense than to think of driving them to Richmond by charging. They are very strongly entrenched and can fall back from one line to the other which are not very far apart and the distance is 22 miles and they can cut us down about as fast as we can walk up to their front charging on a line of strong breast works. In my opinion is regular murder and what Grant has gained he has gained in that way but look at his loss. I hope the end will soon come or this country is ruined and look at the suffering. I would like to know if there is going to be a draft. I have sent to the regiment for my letters. Please write soon. Give my compliments to Mother and all inquiring. From yours truly, T.M. Davis
I am better. I am coming right up again. You hardly ever saw anybody gain as fast as I do. I am nearly as well as I was when I started to come home from N.Y. last winter. The doctors here have been most uncommonly good to me. They have done all in their power to fetch me through. They say I have been very patient and they are going to give me plenty of time to recuperate before I go on duty again. I have 2 spoonfuls of wine 3 times a day for the last 3 days and don't take anything but cough medicine now. I am all right now until I get cold again which I shall be as careful as I can be of. I think all will come out right yet. But here is not a bit of a chance to get out of the service here. But I find enough to busy myself with. I wrote a letter for a man this forenoon that wanted me to write for him and have been asked to write another this afternoon which I will do if I am not too tired when I get this done. If I am I will write it tomorrow. The boys here are mostly all good to each other. They are all good and clever to me. Some of them rangle a little. I don't feel like resenting an insult if I should get one which I have not had nor have I give any reason. My good woman, I believe if I were at home now we could know what comfort was. I would appreciate as a great favor, the greatest that could be given me to talk with you if it was but one hour now. But I may have the privilege yet. God doith all
Va. Sept. 25, 1864 Mrs Davis, Dear friend, I am very sorry to have to inform you that it was impossible for me to go to Lincoln Hospital while I was at Washington although are but one mile from it. We only stayed in the city one night and then we were not allowed to go out of the building at all. And when we were at Arlington Heights there was only one pass given in a day and there were so many ahead of me that I could not get one. I am very sorry that has happened so for I wanted to go and find out something about my friend. I saw a fellow here yesterday that belongs to the same company that Theo did, he knew him well and all of the boys that were from around Fulton. He was cook for the company. He had heard that Theo was dead. He said that Theo was a first rate soldier, always ready and willing to do anything he was told to do and never tried to shirk from duty. He was very sorry to hear that he was dead. He said that Theo was not well for sometime before he left the company but the Dr. thought he was playing sick and would not excuse him from duty but the Captain would. I have been sick for 2 or 3 days but am some better now, I was so sick that I could not go with the company yesterday morning as they came through this place on their way to Winchester and so I had to fall out. Uncle Eber is with me. The doctor has given me some medicine and I am in hopes I shall be able to join the company in a day or two. I am in a large factory of some kind but it is used for a guard house now. It is on an island called Glens Island. The Shenandoah River runs right up close to the buildings. It is very hilly and rocky about the ferry. The most and better part of the buildings here have been burned by the Rebels. The place was surrendered to them by Colonel Miles a year or more ago but is held by our forces now. Citizens say that for a week past it has been the only time since the war but what there has been Rebels in sight but General Sheridan has drove them out of the Valley pretty near by this time. He has been at them for a week past and has had a victory most every day. There is a good many of the prisoners that he has taken here in this building. They are a pretty tough looking lot of fellows. I would like to have you write me and let me know all about how you do and if you have heard anything from that Dr. at the hospital and so on. If you see our folks, any of them, you can tell them how and where I am. Tell Bailey I would like to see him very much, but he must be a good boy for he has got no Pa now and he must a good boy and then he will make a good man and can take care of Ma when she gets old. Kiss Fred for me. I suppose he walks by this time, does he not? If you see Vi give my respects to her and tell her I will write her when I get to the company. I don't know as you will be able to read this. I remain as ever your friend, Sergt. Charlie C. Rice Co. A. 184 Regt. N.Y.S.C.