This letter was written by Joseph S. Esterly (1836-1893), the son of Joseph Esterly (1795-1856) and Lydia K. Schneider (1798-1882) of Berks county, Pennsylvania. Joseph wrote the letter to his wife, Amelia Jones Linderman (1843-1869) while serving as a sergeant in Co. G, 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry. The regiment was raised in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Berks counties by Richard H. Rush who had been authorized to do so by Gov. Curtin. At the suggestion of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, the men were armed with Austrian lances. After several weeks of training in Philadelphia, the regiment was transferred to Washington D. C. where it was assigned to the Cavalry Division of the army of the Potomac.
Regimental records indicate that Joseph rose in rank to sergeant before he was mustered out of the service. An obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer published on 9 March 1893 stated that: “Joseph E. Easterly, a veteran of the late war, and a well known citizen of Reading, died this morning after a short illness, aged 56 years. He served in the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry (Rush’s Lancers) until the close of the war, and was postmaster at Baumstown, Berks county, for several years. He was a prominent Mason, and was also a member of the G. A. R., Union Veteran Legion, Knights of Pythias, and other organizations.”
Addressed to Mr. Joseph S. Esterly, Baumstown P. O., Berks County, Pennsylvania
Postmarked Washington D. C.
February 18, 1862
My Dear Wife,
Yours of the 13th was received a few days ago and was pleased to hear from you [and] also that our boy was getting along so well. I would indeed like to see him but I think the day is not far distant when I can again come home to stay as the Rebels are being driven back wherever our troops meet them and their leaders are being captured. We are all getting tired of laying around here and it is near killing me up for I would like to go on the other side of the [Potomac] River for if they keep us here all the time, they might as well left us at home as it is only 7 months by the 8th of March that we left our homes hoping to have a chance to battle with the traitors before this time. But we have been greatly disappointed in our imaginations for I really don’t believe we will ever get a chance to fire a shot at them. I was over at Tennallytown and seen Mahlon Francis. ¹ Also Daniel Pyle ² and Jacob Willman’s brother. ³ They are getting along first rate but they are all spoiling for a brush with the traitors.
I received a letter from brother Amos today. He says that he is getting along well (I also think he is). He says he had had an addition to his family a few days ago (A young daughter). I think he he is prospering or at least his family is improving.
Brother Daniel writes that they are all well as usual and I guess I must soon write to him for some more tobacco as my stock is getting low.
Concerning paying the rent at Goodhart’s on the first of April, I want you to pay him every cent and then move our goods to any place that you may select till I may return (and if I do not return, so with them as you may see fit). Take a receipt from Goodhart. Also try and collect that note from Amos R. Reifsnyder next month. That will help to pay rent. Tell him you want it for that purpose. I must now close. Give my best respects to all enquiring friends and write soon to me and give me all particulars. There are not any news of importance for there is nothing but snow, rain, and mud here in camp and I cannot compare our whole regiment to anything else but mud turtles.
Yours affectionately, — Sgt. Joseph S. Esterly
Camp Barclay on Meridian Hill near Washington D. C.
Address care of Capt. [George E.] Clymer, Co. G, Col. Rush’s 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry
¹ Mahlon Francis served as a private in Co. B, 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry.
² Daniel Pyle served as a corporal in Co. B, 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry. He later rose to the rank of First Lieutenant.
³ Mabery E. Willman was a private in Co, B, 93rd Pennsylvania Infantry.
My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.