December 28, 1862 Letter from Pvt. James W. Gormley, Co. K to his Father following the Battle of Fredericksburg; also presented are images of the envelope and Gormley's Discharge Papers
Clark Gonzalez, for transcribing and contributing this information on his
great great grandfather James W. Gormley for the 100th Pennsylvania Website!
Photo on Right: CDV of James W. Gormley in Civilian Clothes probably taken shortly after the Civil War ended.
Enlistment/Discharge Profile: James W. Gormley enlisted in Company K on August 28, 1861 and served exactly three years, honorably discharged on August 28, 1864 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At enlistment he was 5'10" tall, with light complexion, grey eyes, dark hair and was a farmer by occupation. His discharge papers were signed by Captain Dallas Irish, of the 13th US Volunteers on August 31, 1864. He was paid in full by the US Paymaster Russell Errett. It appears that an additional bounty his original bounty was paid by the paymaster C. Holmes on March 23, 1868 as stamped because of a Bounty Act enacted July 28, 1866. The recorder of discharge was Sylvestor Gaston from the Lawrence Co. PA Recording Office on August 26, 1866, in Soldiers Discharge Docket No. 1, page 114.
The Oath of Identity states that James W. Gormley was a private in Captain Joseph H. Gilleland's Co. K and was discharged based on expiration of service, serving his full 3-year enlistment. Sworn and subscribed by notary public J.W. Reynolds on the 14th of September, 1866.
*Website Curator's Note: This letter has been transcribed without editing original spelling errors, punctuation etc.
December 28, 1862
Camp near Fredericksberg
I seat myself this beautiful morning to reply to your kind letter of the 19th which I recieved yesterday. It found me enjoying good health but my spirits are not so good as they might be. This thing of laying out here in the cold and exposing ourselves is not verry nice and when a person has no hopes of gaining anything by it. For it has got into my mind that we are going to get whiped all the time and that the southerners are going to get their confedracy.
I hope I may be mistaken but things
look rather dark on our side now. We have so many retreats, just by bad
generalship, that the soldiers are getting discouraged. They do not know when
they are going into battle but they are going to be run into some place and get
all cut to pieces and gain nothing by it. I do believe that we lost ten men to
there one in the fight here. Great encouragement to fight, is it not. But let
them go to it.
I intend to take care of my (webmaster's
note: Pvt. Gormley began to write "I intend to take care of my..." and then
scratched it out..."take care of myself? my hide? One can only speculate).
I cannot help it. We are still laying here yet doing nothing. I heard the other
day that we were going to Washington,
that is, the ninth army corpse. They are sending the sick all there today. That was a pretty hard sight. But we have got so use to it that it does not affect us much. A man is thought pretty lucky here that gets off with his arm or leg. here was one hundred sent away the other day from the hospital that had limbs taken off. There was a pile of arms and legs half as big as a wagon there. TStill, I would as leave keep mine a while yet. We were very lucky not being called into this fight. But Burnsides did order that the ninth corps storm the forts. But the generals under him persuaded him from doing it. He has a great deal of
confidence in his old corpse, but I am affraid it would have been the last of it if they had went up there. The fight here a Saturday night was the prettiest I ever saw. First to see the flash of the cannons and muskets of both sides for a mile. It was nice but not so nice to be in it. You said you were going to sell the lower place. Well, I do not know, but I believe money is about as safe in land as any place else if the taxe is not too high. I suppose it is pretty hard for you to keep the fences up as we could not do it when we were all there. What kind of gloves were them that you sent in that box. I guess that box is lost. But I have nothing more to write at present. But thanking you and dear mother for your many faithful words and earnest prayers, I will close.
Yours as ever,
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