1862-4: Civil War Letters of Charles Tolman Moody, 5th New Hampshire

These six letters were all transcribed directly from scans of the letters that were offered for sale at public auction on the internet in February 2011. It’s a shame that the collection was broken up.

In 1838 Jonathan Moody, a shoe manufacturer, moved from Unity to Claremont, New Hampshire with his wife Mary (Chase) and growing family. In a house on Elm Street, at Terrace Corner, he set up shop and raised his family. Here, in 1844, Charles Tolman Moody was born into a family of eleven brothers and sisters. A brother two years older, William Henry Harrison Moody, became a very successful merchant and his name is still revered in his hometown of Claremont. Another brother, George W., two years younger, also joined the 5th New Hampshire Regiment as a musician, but in Company G.

When the American Civil War began in 1861, Charles obtained his father’s consent and became a drummer in Company H of the vaunted 5th New Hampshire Regiment led by Col. Edward E. Cross. The regiment has the unfortunate distinction of having sustained the greatest total loss in battles of any infantry or cavalry regiment in the Union Army, with a total of 295 killed and 756 wounded, for a total of 1,051 men. Enlistment records show that Charles T. Moody joined the 5th NH on 20 April 1862 and that he wasn’t mustered out until 19 April 1865 at Burkesville, Virginia.


August 5, 1862
Camp Near Harrison Landing

Dear Farther,

I write you a few lines as I have a little time. We are under marching orders. There was heavy firing to the front this morning on the hill [Malvern Hill] where we had our last fight on our retreat. 3 divisions went this morning and the firing is least. It means something.  We have got orders to march at a moment’s notice. We filled our Haver Sacks with 2 days rasions in them so to be ready to march but we cannot go great way without meating the enemy. I hope that we shall not go in another fight untill hot weather is over because it is bad for a man that gets wounded.

Farther, I’m well at this time & have been more healthy than I was at home. [My brother] George is some better & is getting along well. He is still in the hospital. I have hird nothing about him getting his discharge but I wish he might for he wants it bad enough.

Farther, I have got $10 dollars of Rebbles Money that I send to you so that you can see what kind of money they have. Farther, have you had green corn in the garden yet? How does your field corn look now? Are you going to have much if it does? Well, I hope you will.

Farther, have you got that 25 dollars we sent to you? As soon as you get it, write. Write as soon as you get this. Are you cutting lot of hay for yerself this summer? Is there a lot of apples this year? I hird there was going to be lots of apples. If you can send some in some box that is comming. There is no apples out here only once in a while a small one. Good by to all yours,

Charles T. Moody
Drummer in Company H


Camp Newport News
August 24, 1862

Newport News, Virginia

Dear friends at home. I take the pleasure in writing a few lines as I have not hird from you for some time but in hopes I may before great while. We have been on the march 7 days & at last reached Newport News. We expect to leave here in a day or 2. We left Harrison Landing on the 16 & reached here 2 days ago.

We came by way of Williamsburg. I saw where they fought there. As we passed along the woods, I saw where the Balls struck the trees. It must of been awful battle when they charged the Breast Works where they played with there artillery awfully. I saw where the Cannon Balls hit the trees making awful holes in the trees & then coming down to Yorktown & seeing there works it was quite a sight. I think if we stay in Virginia much longer that Virginia will be prety well dog over the long guns in the forts now. There is quite a large fort there. It never has been our good luck to get such a chance as that. Our luck is to get in all the Battles there is. We came by our works that was thrown up at the time we was going to take Yorktown. We came through Big Bethel where the Rebbels had forts built. They had quite a fight there but all forsaken. Now it is a nice seeming country. All the way down the James River there was some fields of corn with 100 acres in. It was just large enough to roast. It was quite a treat to get some roasted corn. We killed some pigs on the way. They was good. We killed some beef and cut pieces of and put them on a stick, put it on the fire & roast it. Put some salt on it and it goes well. That is the way to live here. That is the way I like to live.

We have little tents large enough for 2 to lay in. Georgey and myself layed together all the time he was here. He left us the day before we left Harrison Landing. He has gone to New York. He will go home, I think. Now Mother, I have been well most of the time sinse I have been here — more so that those at home. Camp life agrees with me. I always liked it when I was at home if I live through this, I shall be prety healthy when I get home. I have not had my clothes of of a night sinse I left home. I have always lyed on the ground.

The new recruits come in everyday now and we shall get our regiment filled up before a great while. Our boys are enjoying good health at this time. They was fatigued some when they got here but they are felling well now. Addison is cooking in the cook stand now. He hears from Lizzie often. He hird from her yesterday. She was well and liked there much. I wrote to Uncle Josiah some time ago but have not hird from you. I had a letter from Jackson. He was going away. He thinks they will draft him. Does he keep his horse?

It seems like being at home to see the Claremont Boys coming out here. I saw the man ______ took his place in the mill. He came here last night .  Farther, have you got that money yet? As soon as you do, write & let me no for I feel anxious to no. I do not no whether it is lost. Tell Bett to write to me & also Harrison. Tell Henry the same.

Farther, I suppose you will write any way. Mother, you must. I feel anxious to hear from you. Farther, I suppose you will be going to begining to harvest next month. Mother, if you have not sent the 2 Box, you may send me a wollen shirt. We are going on the Boat tonight. We are going to Eckry Crick. I have no more time to write so good by, yours in hast,

Charles T. Moody
Co. H. 5th Regt, NH Volunteers


December 17, 1862
Camp near Falmouth [Virginia]

Dear Mother,

I received that little bundle you sent to me by Lieut. [Samuel B.] Little & never more pleased was I than to get it. I have not hird from you for sometime before. Mother, I am sory you feel so bad about [my brother] George. I think it is a good change for him this winter as things are so dull. He can live well as he is a mind to & stands no danger of getting killed. What pay does he get? Please write me when you can.

Mother, it is as you say about me if I had come home about coming back. I tell you I would not [have] caused you much trouble for I would not come again for the best farm I ever saw in New Hampshire.

Battle of Fredericksburg

We have had one more battle & a hard one to.  My Captain was killed. Capt. [William J.] Keller wounded in the arm. Josiah [S.] Brown killed. Luther [A.] Chase killed. Charles Hart killed. Oh, I cannot tell you all of them. They are to numerous to be mension. Julious Hut wounded. Mr. Shoales wounded & pretty all killed & wounded. There is 60 or 70 men [left] in our [entire] Regiment. I don’t know what they will do with us. The Col. [Cross] is wounded & started for home. This morning, our Major killed. Jackson was hit with a shell & I have not hird of him sense. I do not know where he is.

Our battle was in Fredricks Burg City, the other side of the [Rappahannock] River. We had to fall back this side of the River. They licked us. They had forts built in all directions for those large cannons so they could fire on us in all directions. A man could not step on the Battle field without stepping on a wounded or a dead man. Mother, it is awful to think of it. I never have been so Home sick since I left Home as I did when I came back in camp & to look at the Regiment & see what few men there was. We left Concord with 1000 men and now sixty or seventy men left in the whole Regiment. Just think of that. This makes 10 battles our Regiment has been in. It is awful lonesome here. I hardly know what to do with myself. The Boys look down hearted enough, I tell you. I wish they would let us come home now there is so few of us. Lieut. [Samuel B.] Little was all cut up – hit in 3 places. He came to us before we was going on the field. I don’t know whether I shall ever come home to wear those clothes or not.  I can’t think of anything more to write so goodby. This from your lost son,

Charles Moody


Camp Near Falmouth Va.
February 2d 1863

Dear Farther,

Col. Edward E. Cross, 5th New Hamphire

I received your letter this morning & very glad to get it. I am glad you are trying to get me home for I think I have been here longer enough. You say Mr. Balkum is comming out here. I am glad of that. I am glad to see any Claremont man. Farther, you said you herd the pappers were lost. I have got the pappers where you gave your consent for me to enlist. Col. [Edward] Cross never saw them when I enlisted. All he said if you had gave your consent. I told him you had. I never had any enlisting pappers. The way I enlisted I held up my hand and he read over a few words to me & then he told me to report to my company. That is the way I enlisted. I have always kept the pappers you & Mr. Woodell signed so they cannot prove your consent.

We have had some bad weather here. A few days ago we had about three inches of snow. Most all you know so it makes it very muddy. We have some rain but very little.

What do you think about Gen. Burnsides leaving the Army and General Hooker taking command of the Army of the Potomac. Gen. Sumner has left. He says he will not serve under Gen. Hooker. So you see we have war here among us.

You wanted to know how Jackson is getting along. I cannot tell you. I have not hird from him for some time. He was getting little better then. I think he will never will come back again. He will get away if he can so we all would if so we could. I am sory I ever asked you to let me enlist. I did not know then what I had got to come to. You said Cengey was not comming out again. I am glad of that. He knew but little about war when he left here. We have the same little tents we had last summer – a little piece of thin white cloth. I cannot think of any more to write. Tell mother to write often & you the same. These few lines from your son and only,

Charles T. Moody
Co. [H] Drummer


Camp Near Falmouth
June 5th, 1863

Dear Mother,

With much pleasure I write you a few lines. I am well at this time & hope these few lines will find you the same. Mr. Austen came a few days ago [and] brought my shirt. Very glad to get it – fitted me well, all but the sleaves. Them were rather large but can get along with that better than if it was too small.

The order came this morning to be ready to march at a short notice. We are cooking 3 days raisons for the march. I do not know where we are going. I hope we are not going to cross the [Rappahannock] River again. They say the Rebbles are trying to get in to Bull Run. If they do, we shall have a hard battle. If the Rebbles get in there again, they will get whipped to there satisfaction. They have not got Gen. [Stonewall] Jackson to make these quick dashes. I am glad he is gone. He has been an awful hard Gen. He has ketched us a number of times but we have got out always. He was always got around on our flank or in the center marching his bold dashes. We have not the smartest Gen’s but [with Jackson] out of the way, know lits see if we have got any Gen. smart enough for Gen. Lee.

Mother, I will send you $2.00 that I have got traiding [greenbacks]. Tell Farther I will send him some money when I get paid. Tell Farther to write me. I have written him 3 letters & have not had any answer from him. Tell him to write to me as soon as he can. I will not write any more this time. These few lines from your son,

Charles T. Moody


Camp Cross Point Lookout, Maryland
April 10th 1864

Dear Father, Mother & All

The 5th NH Regiment guarded Confederate prisoners held at Point Lookout, Maryland. This autograph book contains the names of 157 officers imprisoned there.

I thought I would write you a few lines once more while I was on the Point. We are going away this week on Wendsday or Sunday cannot tell which one of them. I shall not write again until we get to our stopping place that will be at Williamsburg or York in Virginia. Shall go to Richmond I think the same way we went before. The second N H Regt is at Williamsburg now. The 13 NH Reg left this morning. They are getting up a large army. I hardly want to go that way again but [if] we are to take Richmond, some awful heavy fighting will be done. I hope Grant with all his army will be successful this time in taking everything he undertakes to. I hope next time you hear the news of Richmond being taken, it will be correct. I will write you as often as I can. You must not expect to hear from me as often as you do here for that is an impossibility in a campaign. You know you must oft write and so often as you can for I shall want to hear from you & will tell some. I will not write any more this time. Good by, with my love to all hoping to hear from your son,

Charles T. Moody

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