On July 11, 1863, draftee Uriah W. Stratton was mustered into the service of his country. He was about 23 years old, from a farm family in Bolivar NY, in rural Allegany County. Private Stratton was sent to fight with the 109th NYVV (New York Veteran Volunteers) near Washington DC. At 5'11" with black hair, black eyes and dark complexion, he must have cut a fine figure.
In June of 1865, he wrote this letter to his older sister Sarah "Sate" Stratton.* He wasn't at all happy with the army.
Camp of 51st NYVV [New York Veteran Volunteers]
Dear Sister it is with great pleasure that I am permitted to write you a few lines to inform you that I am in good health and enjoying my self as well as could be expected. I have but very little to do. I am in the QM [quartermaster?] department yet as you have heard all about it before in my other later I will not write it over again. I received a letter from mother day before yesterday. The first I have had in some time. I suppose it is on the account of my being transferred to another Regt. There is some talk of all volets [volunteers] being musterd out in a short time and I ma get home yet before the forth of July
whether we do or not I hope we will.
Altho I have a very good place I don’t have to work so hard as I would at home.. 4 hour a day would do all my work if it was all put together and I get $18 dolars a month and that is perhaps more than I could get at home and have my clothing found me. But.. getting more than I could at home is nothing to the question
for my part I want to come home and the armey ma go to Hell for all of me. They are around offering $300 dolors for recruits for the regulars armey, but they can take their 300 and stick it in their a [ass] for all of me. When I get out of this I am done soldiering for anyone. They may kick up so many fusses as they are amid [amind] to and they can count me out.
Wel Sate I can’t think of a great deal to write about and I gess this will be rather dry. I suppose there is lots of the boys get home from the armey and they make it riote[?] lively times but never mind I shall be there before long to rais H…l [hell] as well as the rest of them.
I have not got a letter from B.D. since the first of this month. I don’t know but she is dead.. mad or something els of that sort.. Just write and let me know […?] what the schoolmarms name is that teaches our school for you know I always thought a great deal of schoolmarms ever since I was a little Boy. (O him[?])..
Sate you ma just make up your mind that there will be some tall fun when I get home for I have not had any fun in so long that there is a good lot of it to come out I’ll bet.
Wel.. Sate Just write all the particulars in your next letter and except a good night from your Brother.
Company G 51st NYVV
1st Brig.. 2nd Div 9th A.C. [Army Corps]
Ps. (I am short of stamps and money to so frank this letter and shoo it through) Shake Spoke
Digging deeper into Uriah's records reveal that the man was an accomplished soldier. He was cited for "bravery in battle" for his actions on 2 April 1865 and thus promoted to the rank of corporal on 1 May 1865 (prior to the letter above). While we don't know the details of his brave act, we do know that the scene was the Breakthrough at Petersburg, Virginia, in which Grant captured the town from the Confederacy, a victory that paved the way for the fall of Richmond.
Uriah did make it home, mustered out on 25 July 1865, not quite in time for Independence Day hell raisin.' In short time, he married a woman named Doroleski** and about 1867 had a daughter Lottie, followed by Matie in 1870 and Belle** in 1878. They lived in and around the towns of Friendship and Andover NY (Allegany Co.). Uriah made a career for himself as a cheese maker.
Uriah and his wife lived on into the 1920s. How often did he think of those difficult days in Virginia?
Documentation of background, military service, and other personal information was obtained from Ancestry.com.
Click the image at the top for a pdf of the full letter. These letters are being made available for non-commercial use, with our request that you attribute the source to the Price and Zimmer Collection and/or a link to this page. Requests for commercial use are welcome.
*Mispellings are kept as is, with clarifications as needed in [brackets]. Questionable interpretations are followed by bracketed question marks: [?]. An untelligible word is denoted as [...?]. Run-on sentences without much punctuation or capitalization are common in 19th-century letters -- line breaks are added to provide better readability.
**Names with various spellings in the public data
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