This letter was written by Corp. George F. Booth (1841-1862) of Co. E, 8th Connecticut Infantry. George enlisted at Litchfield on 6 September 1861 and remained with the regiment until his death on 17 September 1862 at the Battle of Antietam. Military records indicate he was shot in the right arm and side near the south end of the battlefield as they took fire on both flanks in an advanced but unsupported position along the Harpers Ferry Road. In that day’s action alone, the 8th Connecticut Infantry lost 34 killed, 139 wounded and 21 missing, over 50% of the men engaged.
George was the orphaned son of David Smith Booth (1796-1845) and Anna Clarissa Goodwin (1807-1860) of Litchfield, Connecticut.
I believe the letter was addressed to Nealie [Nellie?] Smith of Litchfield. I suspect this was Elizabeth N. Smith (b. 1841), the daughter of Elias and Nancy Smith of Plymouth, Litchfield county, Connecticut.
Addressed to Miss Nellie Smith, Litchfield, Connecticut
Newport News, Virginia
Friday morning, July 11th 1862
My Dear Friend,
Instead of Newbern, North Carolina, you find us on the road to Richmond. We have pitched our tents at Newport News for a short time to wait for the rest of Burnside’s Division & for reinforcements which are to join us from the vicinity of Washington & Annapolis.
I received your letter just as I was leaving camp at Newbern & this is the first opportunity I have had of answering. We came from Newbern to Morehead City by railroad & from there on the [steamer] Admiral to Fortress Monroe. We had a very pleasant trip. Went from Fortress Monroe to Norfolk to get coal & passed Sewell’s Point, Craney Island, & the wreck of the famous Rebel monster “Merrimac.” Arriving at Norfolk, went about the city. Saw the clover in blossom in the principal streets. They are so quiet that the grass grows under their feet. From there to where we are now, passing the wreck of the “Congress” & the “Cumberland” — reminds me of the gallant men who died there defending their country’s rights. I seemed to hear the cheer for the stars & stripes they gave as they went down & hear the booming of the cannon fired when half sunk in the waters. Here there are some fortifications but none very formidable.
Yesterday we heard cannon [fire] at Richmond but don’t know what the result was. Tis terribly hot here. Yesterday one man was “struck by sol” & others affected by the heat so as to be helpless. Our camp is where no tree can shelter us & the sun comes down as if it meant something. We hear that they will allow no letters to go North at present but don’t know certain so shall try & send them. Am glad we are away from “North Carolina graveyard” as they call Newbern. We left from our company several sick there & at Beaufort & Fortress Monroe. Hundreds of boats are on the James [river] with supplies for McClellan & bringing away the dead, sick & wounded. Probably before I write again, you will hear of Burnside’s Division at Richmond. What our fate there may be, God only knows. Many — I fear very many — must give there their life, for there is the battle which must decide between us, gain what we will by our labor, if we can, or, by our blood if we must. We fear for nothing but hope for the best & our prayer to the God of Battles is that whatever course, we may be prepared to meet it.
Remember me to your mother & sisters & please write again. Direct to Newport News instead of Newbern & the rest as before. Truly your friend, — George Booth
These flowers were from the Battlefield of Newbern.
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.