Company B

149th Regiment

New York State Volunteers

The Salt Point Rangers

"The Fourth Onondaga Regiment"


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Letters of Isaac "Ike" Foster

Co. G, 149th NYSV

As provided by Peter Foster, 2002

These are the first of 29 letters written by Ike Foster of the 149th NYSV, the transcriptions of thus generously donated by his descendant, Peter Foster. I will be posting these letters here on our site for all to read and enjoy. Below is the first of such installments. All original spelling and grammar has been preserved. Some letters end abruptly and are incomplete.

Bolivar Heights Dec. 9/62


Dear Brother

I received your letter the first day of Dec.  I would have write to you before but I was waiting for that letter Ma wrote.  I aint got it yet but it might got off from the mail rout in some way.  I expect it every night.  John Skinner and Hopkins got here the third or 4 of Dec.  He gave me $10 that was sent from home.  I was glad to get hold of some, I tell you, to buy a little bread once in a while.  I did not care about any more curents for it takes to much shugar to sweeten them and shugar is 20 cents a pound, butter 40 cents.  Now comes the tug for we have got to march to Fredericksburg tomorrow morning at 5 o'clock for it is about 100 miles.  It will be a niper on some for some get pretty well used up with the march.  They had last week when they went to Winchester 32 miles from here.  They was gone 5 days but going 100 miles is something of a march and carry our napsacks and a piece of shelter tent.  We are agoing where we can smell more gun powder then we have yet.  We are agoing to join Burns de Army.  Homer is within 12 miles of the place where we are agoing.  I hope I can see him and the rest of the boys.  I have got a strong opinion of being sent home by Spring and all of the rest of them the first of Jan.  They will be fun.  I think then is the time we will have good times.  General Geary says if the 149 Regt. Couldent take Richmond they could steal it.  He thinks we are tough.  Wall pete I wish I had some of that cider you spoke about and apples to. I get lonesome sometimes when I think about you setting by the fire these nights and picking on the old banjo but never mind I have sport here.  Write and let me know whether Clark got them acres or not.  Tell Clark to write to me. I will try to write to him when we get settled down.  I will write to Ma.


Camp Convalescent,  Jan. 12th,  Alexandria, Va

Dear Brother:


I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will find you the same and a likeing your school.  I had a letter from home and they said you liked it first rate and I am glad of it.  You might better be there then here enduring hardships of all kinds.  I have seen prety tough times for 2 months past.  I have seen the elephant lately, you may bet but he dident strike me with his trunk.  Come prety close I reckon and to cap all they took me a prisoner and Fred to.  He got a wound in his latter end but not very serious.  I tell you what it is, no poor fellows bad to take it.  They  marched us most to death. I my have a chance to pay them off yet.  I hope so.  They kept us in prison about 4 days and not but a lettle to long I tell you what it is.  They are hard up you may believe.  They would buy one boys knife worth about 9 shillings and pay from 5 to 10 dollars for them with their Scrip but it was jest as good for the boys would spend it rite away in Richmond.  They like to get hold of all of the green backs that they can.  They said that one dollar was worth 3 of theirn.

Well Clark, I have seen tough times but I have seen a good things worth looking at and have rode on salt water that is some thing.  I seen the guns boats and the forts.  Our boat stoped a good while at Fortress Monroe . I tell you it was a nice one.  They was some guns that would make things shake.  I cant think of much to write for I expect to be payed off today or tomorrow and they talk of sending us back to Annopolis again.  Mother sent me 5 dollars but I aint got it yet.  When you write put in a postage stamp.  They is lot of paper to be had but the rest is scarce.  Write as soon as you can.

Camp Near Fairfax Station,  Jan 14th, 1863


Dear Mother:


I received your letter the 8 of Jan. /63 I vas glad to hear you was all well but I dont want you to worry about me for I am better off here than I was at home.  My health is better.  I have got a bad cold now but then that is nothing.  I think that I am more fleshy then I ever was before.  Growing fat every day on hard tack.  Since we have been here we have faired well for we can get bread and shugar and such like cheaper then at home.  At the Brigade Commissary Bread 5 cents a loaf shugar 11 cts. per lb so you can see that we fair well.  Them thats got the cash when our rations dont hold out we get up a paper and sign some mans name to it and go to the Commissary.  Our old Cap wouldnt sign the orders. They aint no consideration about him the old skoundrel.  He is a perfect old nuicence to our company.  Lieutenants left on his account.  He wont stay with us long I dont believe for the Major is down on him.  He took us and drilled us the other day to see whether it was our fault or the old Caps.  After he drilled us a spell he said you needent be ashamed of yourselves.  The old cap dont know nothing about Military duty and never will.  They aint a boy in the Co. that likes him except Jim Decker and he would get down on his knees for him for I guess he thinks he might get another stripe on his shoulders sometime but they will come off again.

Frank White is in our Regt.  I saw him for the first time to know him yesterday.  I wouldent of knowed he was in the regt. never as I know of if Mart had not been to work at the Majors putting a log shanty. he got to talking about where he worked last sumer and found out in that way Martin has gone to fifing again this afternoon he got mad and gived up his gun.

Camp at Brooks Station, March 1st, 1863


Dear Brother

            I received your letter Monday the 16th and was glad to hear you was all well and roasting your schins by the fire. We can do that down here. I should have of writen to you before if I had not been so busy. We had to move from our quarters after we got fix up nice we could skin them all on camps. It  was the nicest camp I ever saw.  We had good. tents and bunks and nice fireplaces. It was a hard task to leave I tell you and go and sleep on the damp cold ground but we had to come to it. We packed up for a move Feb. Saturday the 14th. The Col. put us on the rail road and marched us about 3 or 4  miles and put us on a hill jest above the station. We put up our tents as best as possible.  The next day it rained all day. Then was when we missed our fireplaces.  It rains or snowes every other day here lately. They is a good. many sick now days.  The reason that they fetched us here was to build a Fort.  We went to work at it Monday morning.  We named it Fort Barnum the Fort is to protect the rail road and brige. I jest as leave work on the Fort as do anything else.  

            I think by what I hear you fellows are going rite in, Clark especially. Go it while you are young. That is way Lewis B. went it, bully for him. It was the first I had heard of it. Thats tough that was very bad news about Mils little girl burning up. I have got the letter Clark wrote and Mas to. I had to laugh when I found she had sent me a loaf of bread. We draw more bread now than we can eat but it dont taste like Home made bread after all, but it comeing so far it gets some.

Camp at Brooks Station, March 18th, 1863


Dear Brother

            I thought I would awnser your letter. I was glad. to hear you was well. I got the box all round. I am glad to hear you are having good times. We are having bully good times down here. We drill every day in facing and manual of arms.  We are having some thorough inspections nowadays.  If the Col. finds one speck of rust on the guns any where, the gun is condemned.  We are to have one today sometime. I guess they are fixing for a move in a few days. Dont no where. Some say we are to go back to fairfax station if we do, it will be about a weeks march. I guess they was a having fun up to Fredericksburg yesterday for the cannons roared like blazes. They commenced in the afternoon and kept it up till night and then ceased. All was quiet this morning.

            Wall Clark I would like to see your curly headed gal. I hear so much about her. She must be something nice. Did you have a good time to the fair and down to Steaves. That was a bad affair about Mrs. Earlls little girl burning up but such things will ocur. 

            I got the gazette and standard that was sent to me. I found what was inside of the papers. That must been a gay horse of peats. That was a good way to break a colt. That is quite a loss for him before he had a chance to ride out with the gals. I can sell the hat and suspenders any time I get sick of toting them.  I cant think of nothing more to write at present for camp life is the same as usual. It is the same thing. We have some cold weather down hear. Write soon when you write put 2 or 3 postage stamps in,

                                                                                                                                                                 Write soon,

From your Brother Isaac

  Transcribed letters home, written by Isaac “Ike” Foster, Co. G, 149th NYSV

Donated for use Peter Foster, 2002  


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