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The Civil War Letters of James Randall, Oakland NY

 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 found in Corporal Randall's Civil War pension file by a researcher hired by R. Ferris Randall, kin of James. They were placed in the file after being sent to the pension claims office by James's father Charles, to help prove that James was his son and that the family relied on his support. The pension application was successful.

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.


 Casualty Report for the 169th N. Y. V.
at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Va.,
May 31 ­ June 12, 1864.

The Troy Daily Press

JUNE 13, 1864.

OFFICIAL LIST OF THE KILLED AND WOUNDED OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-NINTH REGIMENT. ­ Lieut.-Col. Alonzo Alden of the One Hundred and Sixty-ninth regiment, received the following official list of the killed, wounded and missing of that regiment, this morning from Major Colvin, who is now in command. Major C. writes: "The One Hundred and Sixty-ninth now occupy a position a little in advance of the works captured on the first of June. We have assumed the defensive, for the present."

The following is the list:

Killed. ­ Colonel John McConihe; Corporal Cyrus W. Gardner, Co. A; Privates Charles Buckbee, Co. K; Michael McBreen, George Gallender, George Wagner, Co. F; William Hoag, Co. B; Henry Mason, Co. C.

Wounded. ­ Lt.-Colonel Alonzo Alden; Corporal A.B. Van Buren; Privates R.B. Stillman, Philetus Brown, Auguste Strassman, (since dead) Daniel S. Corbin, Co. A; Captain Joseph H. Allen; First Lieut. C. L. Morey; Sergeant Samuel L. Sipperly; Corporals Charles G. Bruce, Edward Estes, David Keller, Matthew H. Martrell; Privates Gustave Klaus, William Terrell, Cyrus E. Gibson, Geo. Broker, Charles Gallagher, Charles Farley, John Brimmer, Co. C; Sergeant Dennis Corbett; (since dead) Corporals Patrick Murphy, John Wane; Privates John McGinnis, Thomas McLaughlin, Bissell Moore, (since dead) James Caton, Geo. Seneca, Co. D; First Sergeant John H. Williams; Privates John W. Farley, John P. West, James Mulhall, Herbert L. Lott, Levi N. Gardner, Co. E; Corporals Horace Chamberlain, Geo. C. Wagner, James B. Randall, (since dead), James Perry, Thomas Ross; Privates Ira Chamberlain, Geo. Greene, John Jenyack, William Knach, Thomas McKanna, Samuel McBath, Robert McBath, Labrumme Miller, Weston Warner, Co. F; Sergeant Patrick Aylmer, Geo. Saur, Samuel Sergeant; Corporal Michael Doelker, John D. Havens; Privates John Bachline, W. M. Swartwout, Martin Brabender, John Milligan, John Hughes, Co. G; First Sergeant Michael Russel, Sergeant D. S. Cruikshank, Geo. H. Fellows; Corporal Charles H. Noyes; Privates Abram S. L. Bailey, Wm. S. Parsons, Co. H; Sergeant Desselle, Napoleon Root; Corporal Frank Hope; Privates Arthur Desmond, Edward Canon, Stephen Jodmaine, Co. I; Captain Daniel Ferguson; Lieut. E. R. Smith; First Sergeant J. S. Straight; Privates Francis Gilespie, J. H. Morrers, J. G. Porter, Thomas Shannon, Geo. Burgess, Co. K.

Missing. ­ Privates J. H. Gross, Co. A; Wm. L. Wilson, Co. B; Joseph Meddo, Co. F; James Riley, Co. G; Samuel Guyser, Co. H; James Frazier, Co. I.

June 5th ­ Wounded. ­ Privates James McQueen, Geo. Sheldon, Co. I; Henry Sheller, Co. A.

TO: Mr. C. H. Randall
FROM: Sergeant John B. Foot, Co. F

Headquarters, 169th N.Y. Vol.
2d Brigade, 3d Division, 18th Army Corps
Near the Chickahominy [River], [Va.]
June 4, 1864

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.

Yours respectfully,

John B. Foot
Sergt., Co. F, 169th N.Y. Vol.


TO: Mr. Charles H. Randall
FROM: Private or Corporal Thomas Barrett, Co. G

Camp of the 169th Regt., [Near Petersburgh], Va.
June 20, 1864

Dear Sir,

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,

Thomas Barrett

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
FROM: Captain Augustus D. Vaughn, Co. F

Near Petersburg, Va.
June 25, 1864

Dear Sir,

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.

Yours, sincerely,

A. D. Vaughn

Captain A.D. Vaughn

killed in action about a month after writing Charles Randall

June 25, 1864

Dear Sir,

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.

Yours sincerely,

A. D. Vaughn
Capt., Co. F, 169th N.Y.V.
3d Brigade, 2d Division, 10th [Army] Corps

[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.
2. 136th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
3. 33d N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
4. Corporal James Haver, 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
5. Major-General Franz Sigel's Army Corps.
6. Private Albert Keech, Co. F, who died of typhoid fever on December 20th.
7. Private John Riley, Jr. of Co. D died in hospital on December 28th, Private David Crandell of Co. C died of disease on January 5th; Private Josiah Williams of Co. E died on January 11th; and Private John Mills of Co. E died in hospital on January 22d.
8. Possibly Private Matthew D. Dwyer or Private Matthew H. Martratt, both of Co. C.
9. 2d Lieutenant Thomas D. Jellico, Co. F, did not resign and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on April 12, 1864, and served until September 26, 1864, at which time he was discharged for disability.
10. Captain James A. Colvin, Co. A.
11. Captain Augustus D. Vaughn, Co. F.
12. Corporal James Haver, 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
13. Confederate Major-General James Ewell Brown (J. E. B.) Stuart's Cavalry Division of the Army of Northern Virginia.
14. Captain Augustus D. Vaughn, Co. F.
15. Colonel and Acting Brigadier-General Clarence Buel, commander of the brigade comprising the 118th, 152d, and 169th N.Y. Vols.
16. Private Linus M. Thurber, Co. H.
17. National Theatre Building, Washington, D.C.
18. Major-General Irwin McDowell.
19. Corporal James Perry, Co. F.
20. The 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment, organized at Portage, N.Y., later converted to cavalry on July 28, 1863; it was designated the 19th Regiment of Cavalry on August 11, 1863; and designated the 1st Regiment of Dragoons on September 10, 1863.
21. The Battle of Edenton Road, Va., April 24, 1863.
22. Colonel Clarence Buel.
23. Private Edwin H. Brock, Co. H.
24. Including Corporal Charles H. Noyes, Co. H; and probably Private James Hutchinson, Co. K, discharged for disability on April 25th; Private George W. McMurray, Co. K, discharged for disability on April 27th; Private James H. Morrison, Co. E, who died on May 2d; Private John Daley, Co. D, discharged for disability on May 6th; Private Joel Loveless, Co. E, discharged for disability on May 7th; Private Dennis W. Cummings, Co. G, discharged for disability on May 13th; Private Ebenezer R. Thomas, Co. H, discharged for disability on May 23d; and Corporal Joseph Farrington, Co. G, discharged for disability on June 13th.
25. 2d Lieutenant Thomas D. Jellico, Co. F.
26. 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
27. 33d N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
28. Corporal James Haver, 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
29. 1st Lieutenant James F. Thompson, Co. F.
30. Confederate Lieutenant-General James Longstreet commanded the Tidewater operations, consisting of roughly one army corps.
31. Major-General Joseph Hooker, Commander of the Army of the Potomac.
32. Sergeant Chester B. Bowen, 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
33. 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
34. Corporal James Haver, 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
35. Corporal James Haver, 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
36. Private John Hayes, 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
37. Possibly Private Henry Taggart, 69th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
38. 33d N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
39. The Vicksburg Campaign, March 29 to July 4, 1863.
40. 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
41. Possibly Sergeant Joseph M. Barker, 130th N.Y.S.V. Infantry Regiment.
42. Major-General Quincy A. Gillmore, Commander of the Department of the South and the X Army Corps during the Seige of Charleston in 1863.
43. Folly Island, S.C.
44. Brigadier-General Israel Vogdes, Commander of the north-half of Folly Island, S.C.
45. Brigadier-General Robert S. Foster, brigade commander at Folly Island, S.C.
46. Lieutenant-Colonel John McConihe.
47. The Battle of Shiloh, Tenn., April 6-7, 1862.






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