Among the many treasurers
in our town historian's holdings are transcripts of letters from
a James Randall to his family in Oakland, N.Y. The letters document
the life of a New York Volunteer his fears, friends, and
his longing for home. James B. Randall was the son of Charles
H. Randall and Catherine A. (Lockwood) Randall of Nunda, N.Y.
The letters were initially transcribed by Mr. Randall and then organized and made accessible via the Internet by the Nunda Area Veterans Project team. They were further researched and edited by Steven M. Wiezbicki, who is writing a history of the 169th N.Y.V. Steven is the great-great grandson of 1st Sergeant Patrick J. Aylmer, Co. G.
The Nunda Area Veteran's Project would like to thank Nunda's Town Historian Mrs. Griffing, Ferris Randall, and Steven Wiezbocki for their help with the Randall letters.
These are the letters from 1864, composed of letters and officers from friends at the time his was killed at Cold Harbor. For letters 1862 and 1863, please use these links. There is also a page of undated or partial letters.
New York State records say that James B. Randall, age19 years, enlisted, September 2, 1862, at Whitehall, to serve three years; mustered in as Sergeant, Co. F. 169th New York Volunteer Infantry, October 6, 1862; returned to Corporal,August 18, 1863; wounded in Action, June 1, 1864, at Cold Harbor, Va., died of wounds, June 4, 1864. This is the same James B. Randall, who was the son of Charles H. Randall and Catherine A. (Lockwood) Randall of Nunda, New York.
The official roster of the 169th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment lists the following record for Corporal Randall:
RANDALL, JAMES B. Age, 19 years. Enlisted, September 2, 1862, at Whitehall, to serve three years; mustered in as sergeant, Co. F, October 6, 1862; returned to corporal, August 18, 1863; wounded in action, June 1, 1864, at Cold Harbor, Va.; died of his wounds, June 4, 1864; also borne as Randell.
Source: Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1905, Brandow Printing Co., State Legislative Printer, Albany, 1906.
at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Va.,
May 31 June 12, 1864.
TO: Mr. C. H. Randall
Mr. C. H. Randall,
In accordance with the request of your son, I will pen a short note to you letting you know of the fate of your son, James B. Randall Co. F, 169th N.Y. Vol.
We arrived at this point and formed a junction with the Potomac Army, June 1st, and that afternoon our whole line charged upon the enemy works. Whilst crossing a field, your son was struck in the groin by a musket ball and was carried off from the field. His wound was carefully dressed and he thought he would get along, but last night when I saw him he looked bad, and he told me he thought he could not live and requested me to write to you if he should be taken away. This morning he died and was buried by Corporal [George] Perry of my company, and a headboard put at his grave with his inscription on it.
Jimmy was a good soldier and my tent-mate ever since we came into the service and seemed almost like a brother to me, and I deeply regret the loss of a brother soldier so cheerful and brave as he had proven to be. He died toiling for his country's good and now rests with the slumbering dead.
John B. Foot
TO: Mr. Charles H.
Camp of the 169th
Regt., [Near Petersburgh], Va.
Yours of the 8th instant received, requesting me to inform you of the whereabouts of your son. It is painful for me to relate, but I trust in God he is in a better place than here in this army. James was as brave a soldier as ever shouldered a musket. He was wounded while on a charge at Cold Harbor in Virginia, on June the first. He lived some three days after, when he died.
I was not there when he died and I am very sorry for it, for if I had, I think I would have got some token of his to have sent home to you. I have asked most of the boys of his company, but they knew nothing about anything that he had. There is one of his company gone to the hospital by the name of [Corporal George] Perry. I think he knows something. At least one of the boys has wrote to him about James's things, and if he has any of them, I will send them to you by express, for James and myself was the only two from that part of the state in this regiment, and if it was possible for to send his body home, I would do it, but it is not. The reason is that our forces is drawn across the James [River] since, and we have no force there. So you see, it cannot be done. But I trust that you will see him in Heaven where he will gain a Greater Victory than he ever could here in this unholy war. But you all have the sympathy of his brother soldiers, and especially from myself, for he was almost like a brother to me.
I will close and I remain, your sympathizing friend,
P.S. If you should wish to write to me again, you can direct to the 169th Regt., N.Y., Co. G, Washington, D.C.
TO: C. H. Randall
I take a few moments while we are resting to write you a few lines in answer to the letter I received from you of the 13th. I was unable to see James after we made the charge of June 1, as we were so reduced of officers that the command of the regiment devolved on me, and what with seeing to men of my own company and the affairs of the regiment kept me on duty all the time.
I cannot as yet learn that he made any request before his death. One of my men tells me that he kept some things with a wounded corporal of my company the day before he died. When he returns I will get what information I can. [I will] also send the things he left with the corporal.
One of my men tells me that he died so quietly that no one knew that he was dead until he went up to him, and found that he had stopped breathing. This man states that he was with him a few minutes before he died, and he then was very quiet and had no words or requests to make to or for anyone. He was sitting up when he died and remained so when they found his breath had left his body.
I wish I could have been there and seen him, as I could then give you more satisfaction than you will now receive from the few lines I write you. It is impossible to get his body sent to Washington, and would have been at this time, unless there had been some citizen that could have taken charge of it.
This war has caused a great amount of misery and anguish, and I hope will soon be over, and that yourself and family may not have to mourn for the other son. Accept my sincere sympathy in your affliction, which no doubt, is small compared to your greater sympathy; but yet it is a comrade's honest feeling for one who has marched and fought side-by-side, and who retains a mournful feeling for the loss of him that endeared himself to us by his gentleness and good manners.
I will write you again when that corporal returns.
A. D. Vaughn
Since writing the above, a private from Co. A came to me with five pictures which he found near a knapsack that had been rifled. On the day this charge was made our men charged with their knapsacks on and then most of them in crossing the field threw them off. James threw his off, which accounts for the finding of these pictures. This man said the sergeant's picture looked familiar to him and he thought he would bring them along. He did not take anything else in the knapsack, as he was helping bring in a wounded man.
A. D. Vaughn
[Note: Captain Vaughn was killed in action just one month later in the assault at Petersburg, Va., on July 30, 1864.]
1. Captain Augustus
D. Vaughn, Co. F.
Go to 1862 or 1863 Letters