American Presidents

Chester A. Arthur

Chester A. Arthur

Working as a claims agent, Chester A. Arthur writes to his brother William towards the end of the Civil War.

Washington, June 12, 1864

Dear William:

When you have time to write (which I know must be seldom) tell me about the battles you have been in and the part your regiment has had in them and yourself especially.
Your letter of the 3rd of June reached me yesterday having been forwarded to me from New York. I have been in Washington off and on, for four or five weeks, having business before some of the Congressional Committees. Indeed I was right glad to hear from you and to know that you are safe and sound through all this terrific fighting. We have all thought of you all the time most anxiously and earnestly. It is a great relief to hear from you, so write as often as you have opportunity. I am going to return to New York in two days and as I cannot well get the things you want here, I will wait until I return and get them immediately and send them on, the first chance I have or by mail (such as I can). I will send you newspapers regularly and write to you often, but you must keep me posted where to direct to you.

I have carefully examined all the dispatches and letters from the army to learn when and where your regiment has been engaged. I knew that the batallion under your command was in the fight of the nineteenth of May, as the accounts of it published in the Herald gave your name as commanding the batt'n in Kitching's Brigade of the Fifth Corps. We know that there has been desperate fighting since your letter is dated, but I do not see by any of the lists that any harm has happened to you.

The family are all well. Mrs. Haynsworth has been in New York for some weeks, staying with Nell, while I have been here. She went back to Cohoes last week. Of course she was very anxious about our taking Petersburg, Pa was at the convention in Philadelphia two weeks ago and stopped to see us when in New York but I did not see him, being here. Nell and I intend to stay in the city this summer and have taken a furnished house in 26th St. until the first of November. I don't suppose there is much chance of your being with us during the summer, or at any time until this campaign is finally closed.

I presume by this time the army is all over the James River though today, we have a rumor that Hancock has crossed the Chickahominy at Bottom's Bridge. When you have time to write (which I know must be seldom) tell me about the battles you have been in and the part your regiment has had in them and yourself especially. I can't get much of an idea of it from the newspaper accounts. The constant fighting in this campaign must have been a pretty severe school for your heavy artillery regiments, who have not seen any before. It will make veterans of them very rapidly, but by all accounts they have behaved exceedingly well. I know you well enough to feel that you are doing your duty well-that you are as plucky as the best of them and that you will reflect credit upon us all at home. May God keep you safely through it all.

I have not seen Nell since your letter came. She speaks of you in almost every letter I get from her.

Chester A. Arthur

[The above letter is reproduced exactly as written and was obtained through the archives at the Library of Congress]

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