Lyman Van Buren Furber Collection 1827-1879, MS. 2442

Maryland Historical Society
Library of Maryland History


Lyman Van Buren Furber Collection, 1827-1879
Maryland Historical Society

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Lyman Van Buren Furber Collection, 1827-1879
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
Fax: 410.385.2105

Descriptive Summary


Lyman Van Buren Furber Collection, 1827-1879

(MS. 2442)

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674


Maryland Historical Society Manuscript Collection

(Period April 20- June 15, 1861)

Washington, April 20th/?

Dear Mother

I am safe and sound and in the very best of spirits. It has been very hard traveling but I am now perfectly rested. It is worth a years toil and hardship just to see the Capital and have the honor of sleeping in the Presidents own private room -- I suppose you will hear a bout the skirmish we had at Baltimore, but never mind for I was neither hurt nor frighten. But remember that it was the sixth regiment that killed the first secessionist. I know what it is to hear the bullets whistle about my head but don't worry for it unlikely to happen again. Mother the longest the United States can hold on is three months and they can't (?) me in that time. I am sure. Mother remember what you said that you could not cry. I have never been sorry that I went and hope you won't be forit is selfish but then I know that you won't. Mother I am just as well off hear as at home so don't let the folks fret and worry about you because they don't know anything about it. Be carefull and collect the rent as soon as it is due and keep the money about you for there may be hard time. I have sent my memorandum in another envelope. I have lost one long letter I had written and when write I will send the leaves of my diary but don't loose them nor show them to any one out of the family. Tell

Louisa that I hope she has stopped crying for she nearly set me a crying and that you know is not very honorable in a soldier. I wonder what Grandfather will say when he finds that I am in the army. Tell uncle Alph that I think I shall purchase a revolver with the money he gave me. I suppose that you get a share of the money that the city appropriate for the families of those that went a soldiering. Tell Uncle Alfred to write and Charley Coburn and Wm. Morse and I will answer it if I can posibly get the time. Write and tell me who volunteers in Lawrence (?) for I believe you have a recruiting officer in town. Soldering is not so bad a business as I suposed I have spent only four dollars and a quarter and I spent for cloths a pair of shirts and stockng (?) is and scarf and cap. I have got plenty of money and some to spare. We don't have a chance to spend it every is free dollars (?) I have got so now that I can sleep any where I please. I could sleep hanging by the heels. I sleeped on the floor last night with nothing under or over me and had the best night sleep I had in life and it is the first time that over two hours since I started but I don't mind that so long as I am well. Tell Mary to write and tell us how she likes her boarding place and I will tell her how I like mine. I am glad that uncle Eph was not fighting with his company for the Infantry had to take it pretty bad but none more injured but what they will get well. I was a pretty hard sight to see so mainly soreheads the soldiers fought like veterans. They are all in high spirits. Remember that I do not look (?) my letters for I do not have the time. Give my respcts to all my friends and love to all my relatives that means Mary to.

Washington, D.C.???

Company? MVM


Washington - April 23rd

Dear Mother

I have heard from home by George Merrill. I hope that you will receive this for I am going to send it by him. You need not think when you receive this that it is the first one that I have not written for I have writen a great many. We have great many privileges hear by writing--I am now writing in the senite room. We are quartered in the capitol. I am in quarters the Presidents own private room.

The wether is beautiful but a little to warm to be comfortable. It seems strange when I think one week ago I saw it snow While hear the peach trees are in bloom and the trees all leaved out. It seems more like June than April but never fear for the warm weather the thermometer did not exceed ninety six degrees last summer while at Lawrence more than on hundred the heat is stedyer and most likely we shall not leave the capitol this building is always helped (?) cool While we go home -- They cannot keep us more than three months at the longest. I dont think that our regiment will fight any more if it dose. Dont believe the first reports aboute it for they never get the right of it. The whole regament was not cut up as the story went there were only three companies engaged in it. I mean the regular fight you will hear the part that I took in it when we get home. but I came out of it sound as a nut for I was neather frightened nor heart and feel perfectly well and happy have not been homesick yet I have not forgoten you not by any means. Mother dent have any uneasy mess about money affairs for I shall have been forty nine dollars if we

stay three months so don't work hard. let Louisa keep on at school if she wants to. Tell CWedy (?) that she need not cry about me for if I should see her it might set me a crying for she came pretty near it. Tell her I dont feel so bad about that party as I did but we wil make it all right when I get home which may be very soon. that is if they patch up apeace. Tel Uncle Alph that I am very much obliged to him for that money he loan me but I hope I shall not have to use it. Tell Mary that I wish that she and Louisa would come and pick apples and peach blossoms with me or come and I would show you all through the capitol it is speldid building you could not go throug it in a moment. I think you would want to rest before you got through. Tell Charley that I have been on the top higest building in the United States. It is not all fun to soldier so he had better not try to come. I don't have very hard times because I do not have to go on gard and do the worst of a solders duty for I have most of the time to myself. Tell Aunt Abb that I feel as much at home hear as though I was at Lawrence. I can lay down on the marble floor (Apr 1861) with any thing and sleep as comfortable as though was in the softest bed in Lawrence but it hard to make you believe that but its true neverless I believe a little ruffing does me good. Why would like to have uncle Eph here to fife for them for they have neither fife or drum. they got left and had to go back to Philadelphia. I don't know but what they have gone home. Now mother dont worry about me but stay at home and it went be long before I will be with you. If you are sick I know that someone will take care of you and it will be the same here. I have got aquinted with great many all ready that will do anything for us that I want.

So good by and good health my dears.

Your Faithful Son Layman

This is writen in a great hurry as you see

Washington March 2nd 1861

Most Affectionate Sister

I have received your letter and you don't how thankful I was when the mail arrived every one ran to headquarters exclaiming is there a letteer for me, and when they had looked the letter all over and did not find any for themselves some were so disppointed that they sat down and cryed like children. I don't know but what I should, but I dont cry very easy.

The troops under Gen Butlar's command from Massachusetts suffered terrably from hunger and thirst. The pilot on board the boat which took them from Havrede grace to Annapolis ran thim a ground on a sandbar where they had to stay forty hours without any provisions they all most died with thirst for they had not even their cantenes filled so some were so thirty that they drank salt waterwhich caused some to be crazy two of them hopelessly so. They have arranged so that the troops can get through without much difilculty but the rout through Baltimore was more direct but now the mob comes regularly but it did not get through untill yesterday. The New York seventh regiment has arrived they are a splendid Battalion; but I don't believe they will go a head of the six Regiment in the battlefield.

Louisa I have been nearly all over the City of Washington. I have been to the War department and the Postofice department Patent Ofice and Tresury building. They are all built of marble and granate and each building is as

large as the City block back to Common Stret; that is cover that much ground. I am most tempted to buy a book with Photographs of all the principal buildings in Washington which I see downtown. I have excelent privileges to see what is going on. I have just got home from the rsenal that is the plce that interested me most. I went all through it in the yard are three or four hundred cannon placed in the yard ready for use. You ought to seethe revolver that I carry it is nearly as big as a musket and enough to stagger a small boy but it is not a bit to small I wish you could come here fora day or two and see how the country looks when we left Boston it was snowing and the next day we were traviling through a country where the grass was as high and green as it is in our place in the first of June the cattle were all in the fields and the trees were in bloom the wheat was six inches high in some places and the farmers are nearly done planting it is pretty warm here but I keep comfortable.

Louisa you don't know how anxious we have been about the Capitol and about ourselves for the first four or five days there was not more than four or five thousand troops in the Capital while there were six or seven thousand Virginia troops but a few miles a cross the river and I dont know how many secessionist in the city. They had to sleep with accoutements all on ready to fight at any moment. We were call up two different nights and received amunition and we expected to march out and fight but for all that you you would see happy faces but it was not much fun for me to get up and help deal out cartrage the first night the men received twenty cartrages apiece and the next enough to make forty but that is all over now for we have now troops enough we are compliment for our prompness which I think saved Washington.

You it seems would like to know the particulars about the battle at Baltimore you will hear all about it when I get home if not before but dont

believe the news paper stuff for I have not seen a true version of the affair at all. The New York seventh regimant is here and a splendid corps they are two I have made the acquintance of more than a dozen of them they all live high they board at the national house but they have to pay for it I can tell you. I gess you would smile at our living we have for breakfast beefsteak and bread we dont have dinner and super consists of broild bacon and coffee or soup and cold water it is good enough but the mean would like a change I fare better for I have better for I have the privilage to mess with the staff. Major treats me like a man which I think he is his wife said she would call on you and he has invited my folks to call on his wife he says that he will give me a good situation if I wish it so I am all wright I suppose you know that Maj. Watson is going to have the post office for the next four years.

I would like to go down Essex street with you and May and see the styles if I had though I would have gone out and picked some flowers for you but it is to late. There are flowers in frount of the Capital and dandilions as thick as hope.

You sayed that there was a lot of friends who wished to write me. Tell them to be sure and do so and I will indivor to answer them if I get time on danger of my being affended for I should be very happy to received them all. Our letters are franked and the paper is free so there is nothing to hinder me from writing except the want of time. Tell all the folks that I am well and hope to see them all about it. the last of July if not before. One poor fellow lost his foot last night by the falling of a stack of muskets causing one to discharge. I am glad to hear that you have taken the care of the house be prompt and get the money as soon as posible. Go to school for there is no trouble about money. Goodby. Van

(postscript written on front page of this letter):

Mother dont work hard for you know that I am getting twenty dollars a month and board and I got two dollas a day till I was mustered into the United States survace so we are right tell Unc Eph that there is not a fifer or drummer in regemint for they all went home after the battle of Baltimore. Tell uncle Alph that the Lowell (?) folks are a head of the Lawrence they have sent six hundred dollars so that the men might have some spare change some of the poor fellows are intirely but it is not so with me I have got a dozen or fifteen dollars. You must not think of coming on here for there are plenty of people who will do every that is in there power What do this folks think up to Secendendery Barn in hope to see some of the New Hampshier people will be here soon. Ask Mary what she would do if Procter should go. Tell Charly that Seinchon (?) and Swardd (?) were in to see us to day and if he liked out here he could ride horseback evry day for half the people ride that way. I wished tha the could see our regiment nearly all are shavy heads They call it the fighting prayer time when they all took thir hats off. if he will wright I will answer. Mother make Louisa and May writ often and make them write for you. I hope you and the rest are well. How is uncle Eph and Aunt Ab. I think she is glad that Charly is not old enough to be a soldier for if he was I am sue he would go. Obediently (?) Lyman

Washington May 3rd 1861

Dear Mother

I have been reading the newpapers and I am sorry to say that I do not like the way the boys write home for they brag to much if I had seen the papers before I would not have writen a word about Baltimore. Every one done there best. I? out but when they state about some things they make some awful blunders one man sayed that the staff were all together that was not so by any means. The city getting full of troops and they are begining to go into camp most of think we shal go soon. Gen. Butler was here to day and made us a speach and it was a good one to. He told us that Massachusetts sent men first and clothing afterward. We have a chance to see all the troops that enter the capitol for they are all sworn in in front of quarters yeterday the Ode Island troops the New York 12th regiment. I think the former is the best regiment in the city and the best equiped the New York (?) regiment arrived last night and are quartered in the Representative hall they are the cutthroat and sholdier hitters of new York City but are all tough, burly and large men and make a good fight as any man if kept under proper displine and I think they will for they got a very smart Colonel one that is not afraid of them. they they begun to seal before they had been here twelve hours from our soldiers but we stoped that very quickly by stopping them from coming in at all. Louisa wrote that a great many wanted to corespond with me if they do why dont they write or have they not got time. There is so much ecitement there what do Mrs. McCoy say and Charley say about the war. does Charley belong to any of new companys do you Charly Coburn. I should have thought he would have writen before this time. I

received a letter from Bill Morse yesterday and think I shall answer it today but I shall have to hurry for it is five oclock all read. The men have not had to go out to day to drill. They say the Seord (?) has got a head of Colonel Jones time to day for they have not had to go out to drill because it is rainy. I think he has not for they have had to drill in the house.

Do you and Louisa work at the Central Curch on soldiers clothing. The trouble with our clothing is it will be to warm woolen dress are no count here but flanner shirts work in handy all that ware is my blue flannel shirt and my new pare of pants if I had had the making up of those bundles I should substitute shoes insted of drawers but they will all work in handy. I got a letter from Stepen Parson last night. I should think some of the girls might wrote to me. I wonder if Martha is full of fight did Louisa go to as may party this year? I hope it was not so cold there as it was here. It was the coldest we have had since I have been here. Bill Morse said he was going to invite me and Frank Herd but I hope that they all went and had a good time. Herd came clear on to Washington and then disgraced the regiment by backing out. I think he ought to be treated as a sneck for when we marched out to take the oath he and one other would not take it and steped out before the regiment and you ought to hear them siss (?) him they would not have him in the companyes quarters and might have used violence if had not been for the Colonel for he stopped there hooting (?) I kind of worry about you. How does uncle Alfreds business hold out you must remember that I shall have a lots of money when I get home. Has Merrill payed his rent yet if he has not dun him as often as you can.

Dont show any of my letters out of the family that our own folks for I never even look them over after I have writen so I dont know what is in them myself. Your Son Van.

Elkridge Landing Eight miles from Baltimore, May 10th

?date 5/10/61

Dear Mother and Sister

It has been nearly a week since I wrote home. I commenced to write two different letters. the first one comenced writing in the capiotol when a man came in and told the staff. that they could be ordered to march that evening or early the next morning so I had to jump up and commence packing our baggage and someone carried it off with the waste paper. I was answering a letter from Bill Morse that I received that day. tell him that I will write him as soon as posible for I was very happy to receive it. I got a letter from Charly and not more than an hour from that time I left the Capitol which was sunday about noon. We dont have any Sunday here. We rode thirty miles in the cars last Sunday and got to our place of a encamp about two hours before sunset it began to rain in a very few moments after our arrival and rained two or three days and the worst of it was that we had no tents so we had go to work and cut down pine trees and make the best bowers we could those that had to go on gard duty had to sleep on on the ground with nothing to protect them from the weather but their blankets. that that stopped in huts were not much better for the rain came through all the same but I had good luck the first night for Maj. Watson was oficer ofthe gard and had to be out all night so I had a piano

covering to put over me so the first night I was comfortable enough. You know I allways have good luck. The next nigh I did not fare so well for I got wet in the daytime and had nothing but a blanket and that was wet to. I fared as well as any body but ant saying much. I get as cold as you would supose but am allright now but the worst of it raines again as you can see by this paper for the box is wet that I am writing on and occasionally a drop comes down through the top of the shanty but now the tents have come and we have plenty of dry straw and have learned how to take care of our selves and that is half the battle these great over coats are a great institution but Masstts ought to have sent us our comp equip like other regiemtns from other states but as Gen Butler sayed at the Capitol That Masstts sent her men and then sent them clothing for if the six regiment had wated for clothing and camps the Capitol would be in the hands of the enemy and I think so to. You spoke about eigt regiment liking the Seventh. they are good fellows enough but are fair wather soldiers. the have their tents floored over and carpeted and such like things and live on all the nice things. I would like to see the come down to soldiers fair. The Masstts regiments are not clothes so well as any the rest except the Penn. troops they seemd to have plenty of money but I gess they use it on the roofs at home and a lot us that are trying to win hear a name go to grass we have been out nearly a week the night have sent us our tents a week ago there has some come at last but not half enough. I got your letter with pictures some time ago and they all that saw them thought it very nice. Those bundles have not come yet and I dont know when they will come but we have been expecting them for some time. the Northern boys received each a revolver from home but most of the men are allready supplyed this afternoon since I commenced to write an order came for two companies to march out capture a baggage train they reported that there were three hundred men with it but it

turned out to be a steam gun four miles and three men it is a strange looking thing about the sise of a steam fire engine and full a heavy (?) I wish you could see the place where we encamp is is on a knowl with a beautiful valley between and it commands three railroad there are several (?) bridges in site one is a splende one but I have not been around much for there has been a great deal a doing since I have been here so I have not been around to see the country much. Maj. Watson has got a horse but I do not have any thing to do with it and I am glad of that when he was buying a horse I told him that I hope that he would get a horse a kind to take care of as the Colonel (?) sayd that he should not have me taking care of his horse for he wanted me with him so I hi has got a horse for to take care of it so I dont have any thing to do with his horse except when I go with him. Most of the men are healther here than at the Capitol and would like better if it was not for the bad weather perhaps you would not believe it hardly but it is so we like this wildr life better. What is going on up in New Hampshire who are their soldiers has any New H boys musterd up coriage enough to fight that I am a quinted with. Mondy 13th I will send this but I would not for it is so durty dont show this to any body for pity sake write often and tell me how you are and how you get along.

Your Faithfull Son


Relay house May 17th 1861

Dear Mother and Sister

I have received your letter of the thirteenth and and every one before but you know that I am a very careless fellow for I have never said a thing about your letters I was not because I did not apreciate them for you dont know how pleased one is when we are so far from home so you get the advantage of us for you see all the new in the paper of what we are doing but we here only by the letters you write. I received one from Uncle Alfred at the same time that I received yours to was kind of to receive two letters at once I have received one from Charley Coburn tell him that I will ans. his soon. Dont Leon May swell around and feel pretty pretty since he has got to be an noncemsion officer I would like to have some of those galant soldiers at home there be with us for a week or two that has just passed and if they would not be sick of them I am mistaken a few day ago I got up at four oclock in the morning and went with Maj Watson for he was okay then but today he was elected loutenant Colonel so I must call him Colonel now. In swmming (?)and expected a still time that day but before noon time came an order that we must move at four oclock so I had to fly around and pack up every thing for we did not know as we should ever come back so we took in our days rations and started for the depot we expected we were going out to fight wished you could see me with knapsack and conteen two blankets haversack and big pistols and amunition when we got depot I got a seat where I could see the whole operation of transporting the can and horses and troops and it is a grand sight to two or three thousand get a board and when they had nearly all got into cars a man came to me and told me that Major Watson was left to command the post here and I had got to stay I was disapointed enough and I got

chance to go with the serg on so I came and asked the maj if I could go with the sergen but the maj told me that I had better stop for they would not have a fight but perhaps we would for he was going soon where that migh so I stopped and he told me not to tell them men and he would tell me so he told me that we were going up to Frederick City with fifty men some of the secessinist were there the night before and and cut the telegraph wires we started about eigh oclock and got there about twelve. when we started one of the men who knew how to run an engine was station one the engine so if the man that run it should prove? he could shoot him and run it himself we treviled about sixty miles when we herd three shots fired and the tran stopped and a company of soldiers marched along side of the train we though we should have to fight them but a colonel steped into the cars and asked if we were U.S. troops and one of the officers knew him and the company proved to be the home gard of Maryland so we were alowed to pass on before we reached the City all the lights were put out and we sat two hours in the cars with making the least sound except when we woke up a man that got to sleep we were watcing for one of the oficers in disguise he came back at the end of that time and we started for home we get back to camp at half past eigh oclock in the morning the next I hadjust got asleep when we were all turned out by the firing of the gards for they thought there was an attack on depot but it that they had arested the richest man in Maryland for we set a trap for him the night before he was coming home with the rest of the legislature when he was taken out of the cars the whole of the legislature got out and began to bluster and say that they would take him away the gard ordered the camp to be alarmed so we had to all turn out but as soon as the alarm was given they got into cars but threatened to be back again before morning so I had to go as mesinger around to the other camps. to 8thN.Y. and the 8th Mass so that I did not go to bed untill two

oclock in the morning making forty six hours on active duty with out any sleep yet I can grow fat on that We are expecting to move from here soon but write to Washington just the same I think we shall get our orders Monday. the place that we are encamped at now is perfectly beautiful it where the Baltimoran spend the summer it is got some splendid walks and good spring water. I am sorry to here that times are so bad but it cant be helped. If you can get along untill we get back we shall have some money ahead but if you have lost your appetite Mother you must go up country and see the folks and stuff yourself with greens we have had plenty of them here ever since we left ome that is the oficers. The story about the hard living is partly true but I think it happend more from sarcumstances (?) than from neglect of the oficers but you must not believe all the stories for it is like boarders these that fare the worst at home are the ones that grumble the most here you must not show these letters for if you would see me with them you would think that I was in a hurry. I never look at them after they are writen for they would frighten me. Tell Mary I am going to be home and make Brun???the rest of the folks as well. Write soon. Yours Van

So Elkridge Landing June 15th 1861

Dear Mother and Sister

I received a letter one day this week but I dont remember what day and the letter I have mislaid so that I am not find it. This has been a very busy week with us. We have built us a new house we can call this one a house because it has a roof like a house and four windows it is the largest house in the whole encampment all the rest are tents except one or two shaties we have got things all arranged and I keep a tidy hotel I can tell you. The first think I do in the morning is to sweep and fold up the blankets and by that time the Colonel is up I get things for him to wash and comb and brush.? I then trim the lamps and and make up my bed O! I forgot to tell you that we have a bedroom back of our hotel we have a tent pitched so the fount comes up close to a door so it makes the a splendid little bedroom with curtens and we have them caught up so you can look in at the outside door and look clear trough and it is a pretty picture I can tell you. I am up bright and early I can tell you I usualy up at half past four in the morning for I am the first up in the shanty, hotel I mean and I have to wake the Colonel for the troops get in to him at half past five in the morning. I wished you could see our camp all alleys have names some of the tents and shaties, our hotel is situated in Masschusetts squire the next building is the Washington market the next is Bay State House then Comes the Acton avinue next middlesex avinue next Seaurince (?) Avinue next on the right is the Acadamy of Music that is the

drummers quarters and so on though the camp. The whole regiment went to Baltimore the 13th it was election there and they expected truble there so we went down and stayed all night We marched round the city a little in the afternoon and frightened the women half to death. we went down the streets at double quick that on the run and wheeled out right and left and til the canon pass us at a gallop and the Col. could send a company down with it to pretect it and we all thougt that we were going to attack some one but we could not tell where they were but we soon found it was only a little practice at street fighting with artilary after running about the streets untill dark came back to the field where we were too stop all night and bivoyactout the ground with nothing to cover us but a blant and we so as to suround the battery with over a hundred horses some of them broke loose in the night and run right over the men. It brought the mean on there feet in an instant and spring for there muskets and the officers drew there swords ready for a fight one of the horses pulled back and when the holter broke it horse back sides right down into a man's face and hert him so that it cut his lip through and made his nose bleed the worst that ever saw a mans bleed in my life it run a stream the stuff layed all along in a row and had a field bed that is we put part of the blankets under us and part over us but I like to froze to death but I got through with any trouble we came back the next morning to our old place but I would not think strong if we did not stay for the Rebiles have evacuated Harpers Ferry and our post is not of so much importance at at was formity I hope we shall move although we have things comfortable here yet I want to see the country that I can for I am in good health and like work to work a little for I am getting lazy you seet hat I have writen all about myself but you must excuse me this time.

From your dutiful son Van