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Luther G. Bunnell
Letters, 1862-1865


Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift; H.S. Field, September 1957
Processed By: Stephen Salino, MSIS student volunteer, University at Albany, March 2011

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Biographical Note:

Luther G. Bunnell was born ca. 1836, the son of George and Margaret Bunnell of Lansing, New York. He enlisted in the military August 16, 1862, and was mustered in October 8, 1862, as a private with Company D of the 143rd New York Regiment of Infantry; he was promoted to corporal sometime before April 11, 1863. Wounded at Dallas, Georgia, May 25, 1864, he died of infection at army hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, June 26, 1864.

Scope and Content Note: 

These letters were sent by Luther Bunnell to his siblings and parents while he was serving in the army during the Civil War. The primary recipients were his sisters, Louisa and Eliza. The letters indicate he was stationed in the vicinity of Washington, D.C., from October 1862 to April 1863, then in the vicinity of Norfolk, Virginia until July 1863. Thereafter, the letters detail his participation with the 143rd Regiment in the Tennessee campaign during the autumn of 1863, particularly at Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge; then the Atlanta Campaign in May 1864, where the regiment was engaged in skirmishes at Resaca and Dallas, Georgia. The letters also detail life in army camps and other routine aspects of military duty such as drill and picket duty. His religious sentiments are discussed frequently in the letters as well as afflictions from disease and battlefield wounds. The collection also includes letters of condolence relative to his death and correspondence of other family members.

Box and Folder List:

Box Folder Description
1 1 Letters, September/October 1862
  1. To Parents: Camp Susquehanna, near Binghamton, N.Y., September 16, 1862; includes poem on back from Louisa
  2. To Sister: Camp Holley, Sullivan County, N.Y., October 1, 1862
  3. To Sister: [New York City], October 11, 1862; illustration of U.S. Capitol Building on the paper.
  4. To Parents: New York City, Middletown and Patterson, N.J., October 13, 1862
  5. To Sister: Upton Heights, Va., October 23, 1862
  6. To Father: Upton's Hill, Va., October 30, 1862; talks of travel with a friend, John Collins, to Alexandria ,Virginia, to visit Charley Barnes's remains
1 1 Letters, November/December 1862
  1. To Louisa: Camp Bliss, Upton Hill, Va., November 5, 1862
  2. To Louisa: Upton's Hill, Va., November 19, 1862
  3. To Louisa: Camp Bliss, Upton's Hill, Va., November 28, 1862
  4. To Louisa: Camp Bliss, Upton's Hill, Va., December 3, 1862   
  5. To Louisa: Camp Bliss, Upton's Hill, Va., December 23,1862
  6. To Sister, [n.p.], [n.d., 1862?]: [fragment]; religious
  7. [No address]
  8. To Jay McCormick: near Alexandria/Fort Worth, [no date]; [one page in halves]; visits Capitol and Smithsonian
1 2 Letters, January/February 1863
  1. To Father [George Bunnell]: Camp at Upton's Hill, Va., January 5, 1863; Luther claims to weigh 175 lbs.
  2. To Louisa: Camp at Upton's Hill, Va., January 10, 1863
  3. To Louisa: Camp Bliss, Upton's Hill, Va., January 24, 1863
  4. To Sister: Camp Bliss at Upton's Hill, Va., February 7, 1863
  5. To Louisa: Camp near Fairfax Seminary, Va., February 16, 1863
  6. To Father: Camp near Fairfax Seminary, Va., February 20, 1863
  7. To Louisa: Camp California, Va., February 22, 1863
  8. To Sister: Camp near Fairfax Seminary, Va., February 28, 1863
1 2 Letters, March 1863
  1. To Friend Jay: Camp near Fairfax Seminary, Va., March 1, 1863; [fragment]
  2. To Louisa: Camp near Fairfax Seminary, Va., March 6, 1863; describes a fortification
  3. To Sister: Camp near Fairfax Seminary, Va., March 11, 1863; the company is put to work bringing wood to train cars at Fairfax Station near Centerville
  4. To Parents: Camp near Fairfax Seminary, Va., March 20, 1863; train accident kills five men; gory details.
  5. To Louisa: Camp near Fort Worth, Va., March 24, 1863; sends Barnes's remains back home.
1 2 Letters, April 1863
  1. To Louisa: Camp of the 143rd Regt. N.Y.S.V., April 3, 1863
  2. Countersign [fragment]:  Headquarters, Department of Washington, April 10, 1863.
  3. To Father: Camp near Fairfax Seminary, Va., April 12, 1863; marching orders to Manassas Junction.
  4. To Louisa: Camp near Fort Worth, Va./Norfolk, Va., April 14 and April 19, 1863; describes riding a steamboat over the James River on the way to Suffolk, Va., and of burning 110 saved letters from home
  5. To Eliza Jefferson: Suffolk, Va., April 24, 1863; the 89th N.Y.S.V. go across the river, take battery of five or six pieces, and capture 126-200 men, 40 more later;  Lieutenant Moffatt of Dryden, N.Y., takes Lieutenant North's place; General Corcoran crosses river with 10,000 men, has small skirmish;  man from Corcoran's Brigade shot by guard in North's Company for failure to halt at post;  six months' back-pay coming on the first of May
  6. To Sister: Camp near Suffolk, Va., April 27, 1863
1 2 Letters, May 1863
  1. To Father: Camp near Suffolk, Va., May 3, 1863; check enclosed; men from the 99th [sic] fought a battle, lost 40-70 men
  2. To Eliza Jefferson: Camp near Suffolk, Va., May 4, 1863; describes battle that occurred the day before; prisoners taken from Virginia regiments.
  3. To Sister: Camp in woods near West Point, Va., May 10, 1863; travels from Suffolk to Norfolk via rail; to Fortress Monroe where some prisoners are seen taking the oath of allegiance; to Yorktown; to West Point where rifle pits are dug
  4. To Louisa: [Va.] May 18, 1863; discusses new chaplain and an order for soldiers under the rank of sergeant to dispose of their revolvers
1 2 Letters, June 1863
  1. To Sister: Yorktown, Va., June 4, 1863
  2. To Louisa: Camp ten miles from Williamsburg, Va., June 16, 1863; march from Yorktown to Williamsburg, Va.; explains the logistics of the mail route
  3. To Louisa: [two pages] Camp four miles from New Kent Court House, June 25, 1863; describes camping in the same places as McClellan the previous summer; rebels building turn-table to support car-mounted gun.  Letter spans several days.
  4. To Unknown: May [?]/12, [?]
1 3 Letters, July 1863
  1. To Sister: Camp at White House, Va., July 1, 1863; troops depart from camp [plantation of rebel General Fritch H. Lee] after a week of rain.  Some head across the Parnumkey [sic] River to disrupt supply lines between Fredericksburg and Richmond, others heading straight for Richmond, Va. 
  2. To Louisa:  Camp near Berlin, nine miles from Harper's Ferry, July 16/17, 1863; cavalry take prisoners from Lee's army; Fort Hudson is taken; recognizes hanged spy from Upton's Hill at Frederick; joins Eleventh Brigade (which has a bad reputation).
  3. To Eliza Jefferson: Camp near Mountville, Va./Warrenton Junction, July 21/26, 1863; waiting for bridge to be built across Goose Creek; will be going to Warrenton; writes from Winchester and Alexandria Turnpike;  repeats most of last letter; asks Eliza to use money saved to pay for Theodore or Charley's exemption from draft
  4. To Louisa: Camp in the woods near Warrenton Junction, Va., July 28, 1863; gets back-mail; learns a friend, Harrison White, has died;  describes lack of ambition/feeling of weakness.
1 3 Letters, August 1863
  1. To Parents: Camp in the woods near Warrenton Junction, Va., August 8, 1863; another check enclosed; describes sickness spanning two weeks; symptoms were fever and lack of appetite; thinks Tompkins County draftees will be put in other regiments
  2. To Eliza: Camp near Warrenton Junction, Va., August 13, 1863; claims sickness is going away; rebuffs offer of caretaking visit as there would be no place for a woman to stay; says army is a hard place to be for a religious person
  3. To Louisa:  Camp of the 143rd N.Y.S.V., August 18, 1863; sends musical piece home; expects war to end by next winter
  4. To Louisa: Camp near Warrenton Junction, Va., August 22, 1863; Does some light duty; still troubled by illness; kindness of Captain; explains that if he gets sicker, he will go to a hospital in Washington where visitors may be welcome; cannot get out of service other than through "foul means"; requests money
1 3 Letters, September 1863
  1. To Louisa: Camp near Warrenton Junction, Va., September 2, 1863; very religious at first; brigade review by General Howard; asks for some undershirts to be sent; mentions parents going to camp meeting in Pennsylvania
  2. To Louisa:  Camp at Catletts Station, Va., September 14, 1863; Elizabeth's mother has died; asks for details of the camp meeting;  encloses check and tracts
  3. To Eliza: Camp at Catletts Station, Va., September 20, 1863; witnesses the execution of a deserter from the 199th N.Y.S.V. [2nd Brigade of Bunnell's Division]; discusses hope to someday attend meeting again as he used to
  4. To Louisa:  On the Cars near Nashville, Tenn., September 30, 1863; describes trip from Catletts Station through Ohio. [cut short by train movement, continued in next month]
1 3 Letters, October/November 1863
  1. Camp near Bridgeport [continuation of last letter], October 2, 1863; small train crash; warmer weather; nice looking country beside rail lines; different prices for basic food supplies; will join with Rosecranse [sic] in Chattanooga, Tenn.
  2. To Parents, Camp along the railroad and on the Tennessee River, October 7, 1863; railroad bridge destroyed; on Eastern side states; enclosed sample of cotton; describes the plant; ends with religion
  3. To Sister: Camp of the 143rd Reg't., N.Y.S.V., October 21, 1863; still doesn't feel well; complains of diarrhea (recipe for cure on back); no letters received since four weeks ago in Virginia
  4. To Sister: Lookout Valley, near Chattanooga, Tenn., November 6, 1863; details shelling from Lookout Mountain; parts of the eleventh and twelfth corps experienced fighting; a dead Confederate soldier; re-acquaintance with John Collins
  5. To Louisa: Camp at the foot of Lookout Mountain, {Tenn.], November 16, 1863; two months' back pay arrives; Confederates shell the camp every day without inflicting much damage; exchange of equipment by Union and Confederate soldiers; Confederates steadily deserting and joining Union ranks; sends back five dollars
1 4 Letters, January/February 1864
  1. ­­To Eliza: Camp at Lookout Valley, Tenn., January 6, 1864; mostly religious; sends Southern money home to little brothers
  2. To Sister: Camp at Bridgeport, Ala., February 4, 1864; answers concern over how mail is directed; sends comforter back; compares weather to that of May in New York
  3. To Louisa: Camp near Bridgeport, Ala., February 13, 1864
  4. To Louisa: Camp near Bridgeport, Ala., February 22, 1864; explains that the corps was moved to protect the rail lines from Bridgeport to Chattanooga
  5. To Eliza: Camp near Bridgeport, Ala., February 27, 1864
1 4 Letters, March/April 1864
  1. To Louisa: Camp near Bridgeport, Ala., March 6, 1864; hears preacher from the 82nd.
  2. To Louisa: Camp near Bridgeport, Ala., March 9, 1864; discusses generals and religion
  3. To Louisa: Camp near Bridgeport, Ala., April 22, 1864; goes on patrol up Sand Mountain
  4. To Louisa: Camp near Bridgeport, Ala., April 27, 1864; describes William Griddle
  5. To Jay: Camp near Bridgeport, Ala., April 27, 1864; describes a Southerner planting corn with seven people helping
1 4 Letters, May/June 1864
  1. To Parents: Camp four miles from Ringgold, Ga., May 6, 1864; visits Chickamauga battle-ground; describes ill-covered graves and decimated trees
  2. To Eliza:  Camp in the woods five miles from Tunnel Hill and seven-and-a-half miles from Dalton, Ga., May 8, 1864; expresses thankfulness to God; summarizes difficulties the regiment has faced since beginning
  3. To Joann: Camp at Snakes Gap, Ga., May 11, 1864; mentions that he is a member of the color guard
  4. To Sister: Camp near Allatoona, Ga., May 19, 1864; [not correct location – see next letter]; describes battle and minor skirmishes [which had occurred one week earlier]
  5. To Eliza: Camp at Gapville, Ga., May 21, 1864; repeat of May 19th letter
  6. To Parents: No. 1 Hospital, 2nd Div. Ward 11, Chattanooga, Tenn., June 2, 1864; Luther is injured in the foot by a piece of shell, [on May 25]; loses half to amputation.
1 5 Letters to Luther or his family, 1862-1865
  1. To Louisa from Adelia A. McWilliams, June 24, [1864]; offers condolences
  2. To Louisa from Hattie A. Dada (nurse in hospital), June 23, [1864]; describes Luther's condition, gangrene in the right foot ("has good spirits, and is calm")
  3. A page of biblical verse with obituary pasted on
  4. To Louisa from Hattie A. Dada, June 28, [1864]; informs her of the death of Luther
  5. To Miss Bunnell from Hattie A. Dada, February 22, 1865; responds to a letter which asks for Luther's Bible and belongings
  6. To Louisa from H.Q. of the 9th A.C., April [?], 1865; offers condolences for the deaths of Luther and Louisa's father  [sender unknown].
  7. To Luther from Glenn, Alexandria, Va., March 2, 1862
  8. To Luther from Glenn, Camp Winfield Cottage, April 26, 1862; refers to prolonged battle with Southerners
  9. To Luther from Glenn, Camp near West Point, Va., May 13, 1862
  10. To Luther from Glenn, Alexandria Va., June 11, 1864
  11. To Luther from Louisa and Joann, [New York] June 12, 1864; they respond to information about Luther's injury, ask if he needs anything.  They seem optimistic that he will be coming home soon. 
  12. To Luther from Charles, Clifton Springs, [N.Y.] June 19, 1864; responds to information about Luther's wound; argues that it is better a foot is amputated than a hand. Note from Hattie A. Dada at the end; re-directs the letter back
  13. To Louisa from John Collins, Camp in the field near the Chatahooche River, Ga., July 8, 1864; informs on Luther's death
  14. To Louisa from [from Captain John Higgins?], July 14, 1864; offers condolences and eulogizes Luther's death
  15. To Louisa from John Collins, Camp at the Chatahooche River, Ga., August 9, 1864; describes intense battles, bayonet charges, etc.
  16. To Luther from Joann: [N.Y.], [date unknown]
  17. Poem: "On the Death of Two Brothers" [by Louisa?]
Last Updated: October 17, 2023