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169th N.Y. - Life on Folly Island, S.C., October 1863 - Frederick French, KIA 7 Months Later!

24-year old Frederick F. French was from Kingsbury, New York and enlisted as a 1st Sergeant in Company D of the 169th New York Infantry.  He was killed on 5/18/1864 at Port Walthall Junction, Virginia. 

This is a long, six page letter in ink from a very well educated soldier.  If you want to read a letter with patriotic fervor, this one is for you!  It comes with a “Due 6”, “Port Royal” cover… but date does not match the letter. 


Here is some of that interesting content:

·         “…Frank Biggart (who has tented with me since the date of our enlistment) rebuilt our tent
and have made it quite comfortable for winter.  Just for the novelty of the thing I will attempt its
description, the tent is of canvass, water proof, eight feet square, it is so erected upon a basis of
yellow pine and palmetto logs, which have been hewn and simply pinned together, by my Friend
Frank
who by the way has become a proficient in the art of tent building, so that when he returns
 (if ever) should he chance to be caught in a thunder shower between Sandy Hill and Jim Biggarts,
he can throw up a shelter at very little expense and with but little trouble.”

·         “…we have been kept busy preparing our quarters for winter and this I assume you do something
 which does not agree with your humble servant in as much as I vainly hoped that my regt. might
have the pleasure of wintering in Va. but since that pleasure has been denied us I trust that same
 fortune or Federal bayonets will gain for us free access to Charleston City where we might winter
in peace and comfort for at least a few months undisturbed by the thundering roar of artillery,
which has so often aroused us from our quiet slumber and threatened the destruction of our camp.”

·         “Friend Thomas notwithstanding we are subject to the trials and ills of cruel war, when we
ruminate on the sufferings of those, our revolutionary fathers, who so bravely fought and dearly
purchased this independence of which we are so proud to boast we as soldiers of this free and
independent nation should while engaged in this just cause of liberty bow our heads in silence,
suffer all ills without a murmur, and remain oblivious of social life until the Banner of Liberty shall
triumphantly wave over our (once happy) and ever beloved country, and that glorious day is not
far distant that day so fast approaching when while winged peace shall spread her wings above the
crimsoned field of terrible strife and proclaim to the world Union forever and freedom to all, but
 alas though the day of rejoicing be not far distant, how many brave soldiers who have so nobly
stood up in defense of our liberties & our free institutions must fall before the scythe of Direful
Rebellion and be transferred from time to Eternity, when cruel war is never known.”


 

#L305NY - Price $225





                    Transcription:
                                                                                                                                                            Hd. Qrs. Fosters Brigade
                                                                                                                                                            Folly Island Oct. 29th, ‘63

Friend Thomas

                    Your favor of the 15th did not reach me until the 25th inst., but notwithstanding
the brief delay, it received the same hearty welcome which all letters do coming from my
much esteemed friend and correspondent who has contributed so much to me terrestrial
felicity by volunteering his services to keep me posted on affairs about home while I am
passing through the firey ordeal of this inglorious rebellion, which is hourly devastating
the life and property of our enemy in the South, and carrying sorrow and affliction to the
 peaceful homes of our loyal and peace loving people in the quiet north.  Friend Thomas
before attempting to proceed further with this letter, allow me to return my heartfelt
thanks for your many kind wishes respecting my health, which I am happy to inform you,
though not fully established, has somewhat improved since I last had the extreme pleasure
 of addressing you.  You will also dear friend, accept my many thanks for the great amount
of pleasure you have afforded me by sending me the papers which you so generously have,
 all of which I have thankfully received and delightfully perused.  One package which I had
the pleasure of opening, not only gave feast to the eyes and gratified the mind, but afforded
 a world of bliss, in satisfying the greedy appetite of an old smoker, who enjoyed that
evening beneath the variegated foliage of the live oak and palmetto, preserving the Glens
Falls
Republican and enjoying a peaceful undisturbed smoke of a highly scented Havana
upon the sand knolls of a declining Confederacy which although based upon all of the
strength, pride and aristocracy of the south, with no light sprinkling of foreign Luccor is
doomed to die the death of a traitor who with his fiendish hand dare attempt the pollution
 of our glorious Old Banner, which for upwards of eighty years has been the crowning
 blessing of a free and independent people and their safe guard and shield against tyranny
 and oppression which has long sought to protrude its hideous form through the hated web
of African slavery (but also) the doom of that (would be) Jefferson, is this day written on
the walls of Sumter, and Moultrie in telling letters stamped by the 300 pounders under the
well directed aim of the indefatigable Gilmore, who is ever watchful of the movements of
the enemy who is on the alert, seeking a weak point that he may make an incursion on our
quiet camps under cover of sable night.  Friend Thos., the duties of a private soldier are at
present very fatiguing in this department much more so than the 119th experienced in
Virginia.  During the long dreary cold nights of October the soldier is forced from his
comfortable tent in the quiet camp and compelled to repair to the woods on the margin of
the ocean, under arms, subject to the heavy dews, drenching rains, and chilling winds,
 which frequent this portion of the, much talked of Sunny South, the weather since the 1st
of this month has underwent a very disagreeable change, the blue vault has been clouded
 presenting to the wearied soldier a dreary aspect, a strong northern gale has been steadily
 blowing which reminds one of the climate once so cold would now appear more genial
to your humble servant than the warmest spot in all rebellion yet Friend Thomas
notwithstanding we are subject to the trials and ills of cruel war, when we ruminate on
the sufferings of those, our revolutionary fathers, who so bravely fought and dearly
purchased this independence of which we are so proud to boast we as soldiers of this free
and independent nation should while engaged in this just cause of liberty bow our heads
 in silence, suffer all ills without a murmur, and remain oblivious of social life until the
Banner of Liberty shall triumphantly wave over our (once happy) and ever beloved country,
and that glorious day is not far distant that day so fast approaching when while winged
 peace shall spread her wings above the crimsoned field of terrible strife and proclaim to
the world Union forever and freedom to all, but alas though the day of rejoicing be not far
 distant, how many brave soldiers who have so nobly stood up in defense of our liberties &
our free institutions must fall before the scythe of Direful Rebellion and be transferred
from time to Eternity, when cruel war is never known.  Friend Thomas now for a word or
two respecting affairs within my regiment for the past few days we have been kept busy
preparing our quarters for winter and this I assume you do something which does not
agree with your humble servant in as much as I vainly hoped that my regt. might have
 the pleasure of wintering in Va. but since that pleasure has been denied us I trust that
same fortune or Federal bayonets will gain for us free access to Charleston City where
we might winter in peace and comfort for at least a few months undisturbed by the
thundering roar of artillery, which has so often aroused us from our quiet slumber and
threatened the destruction of our camp.  I am yet encamped on Folly Island, the number
of troops on this small island, I am not at liberty to tell, neither am I permitted to
communicate anything concerning the operations in this department suffice it to say that
we have confidence in our Commanding General, whom is equal to the task now before
him.  The boys are all enjoying good health, and in as good spirits as can be expected
under the circumstances this day myself and my tent mate, Frank Biggart (who has
tented with me since the date of our enlistment) rebuilt our tent and have made it quite
comfortable for winter.  Just for the novelty of the thing I will attempt its description,
the tent is of canvass, water proof, eight feet square, it is so erected upon a basis of
yellow pine and palmetto logs, which have been hewn and simply pinned together, by
my Friend Frank who by the way has become a proficient in the art of tent building, so
that when he returns (if ever) should he chance to be caught in a thunder shower between
Sandy Hill and Jim Biggarts, he can throw up a shelter at very little expense and with
but little trouble.  Friend Thomas respecting my furlough I will say the sad intelligence
which your letter brought respecting the affliction which recently befell patient Farrell
 will be likely to delay my visit for at least one month as it would be very uncharitable
and unchristian like in me to detain him when the cries of his helpless and motherless
child call aloud for the protecting hand of a father to minister to the wants of one that is
now left in infancy to buffet the waves of a merciless creation.  My Captain has generously
 offered me the next furlough which would be granted in the company which I have the
honor to represent which will be given on the return of Corporal Murphy but for charity
sake I have concluded to transfer it to a member of my company in the low of his affliction
 while I will remain here for one month longer though at a risk of health in the meantime
I will endeavor to enjoy military life ever dreaming that it is social liberty.  It is now
9:20 p.m. my ration of candle is growing short, Frank has just turned in for the night,
and as taps will soon break the monotony of our camp I am compelled to extinguish my
 luminary and retire for the night.  Before closing allow me to ask pardon for the brevity
of this I would prolong it and attempt to make it interesting were I allowed the privilege
 of communicating anything of a military character, but you may watch the daily news
 for an account of a terrible battle and a glorious victory over the enemy.   In this or any
 other Department, as likely to take place here as any other place, that’s what’s the
matter, please present my regards to your mother and the rest of the family, to Mrs.
Byrmes and family, and I hope that on the arrival of this, Mrs. Byrme will again be
enjoying good health, a blessing which I trust may long continue them the wish of one
who remains devotedly your sincere friend,

                                                 F. French

                                                Co. D. 169th Regt. N. Y. Vols.

                                                                Folly Island, S.C.

                                Thomas F. Kelly

                                              Glens Falls

                                                 Warren County

                                                            N.Y.

 

                                P. S.   Oct. 31st as the mail has been delayed, I opened this to inform you of the safe 
                                arrival of Corpl. J. Murphy who sends his kind regards to you and James.  He requests 
                               me to ask you to write to him as soon as convenient and hopes that you and your 
                               numerous friends may long enjoy civil life while he is doomed to suffer the trials and 
                               fatigues of a Yankee Soldier. 


                               Excuse haste, and other disadvantages and oblige.