Livingston Co

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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 New York. The letters document the life of a New York Volunteer - his fears, friends, and his longing for home. Although we do not know who transcribed the letters, or where the originals are located, we bring you the letters as they are found with permission of the Nunda Town Historian.

The Nunda Area Veteran's Project thanks Nunda's Town Historian Mrs. Griffing for allowing us to use this information!

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.

These are the letters which are undated or only partially recovered. For letters 1862 ,1863,or 1864 please use these links.


(Heading Torn off)

{The following letter is probably from James Randall's commanding officer. It appears that James' father had written to complain of some bounty money that his son had not received.}

C. H. Randall

Dear Sir:
I received your letter this evening. In answer would say this: My papers for State Bounty were not informal. The blame rests on the Paymaster. He said that he would pay until it was time for him to take the boat to N Y and he stopped paying my company on that account The most of them received their bounty. I saw Col. Bliss, general paymaster, in New York and he Said if I would send the checks to him which I held he would send me the money. I have done so but have not yet received an answer from him. We are expecting to receive the money from him every day. Your prospect is perfectly good. I wish I had the same amount due me from the State. I should feel perfectly safe about receiving it. "Red tape" like good things comes slow. Your son has been unwell for a few days he is now able to eat his rations. I have not had time to drill him enough to keep him from growing fit. As soon as the bounty is received he will let you know which I hope will be soon
(Rest of Page Torn)


Fragment of a letter with no date, place, person to whom addressed

Possibly written by James while his regiment was part of the protection force around Washington in 1862

This fort has got a good commanding position for miles around It has 32 guns and several more to mount. from this fort we can see five other forts together with a great number of troops all ready to defend their
positions against any force that they can bring against us. We are here for the purpose of being killed we think for on the grounds that our company is today there was a large regiment moved from yesterday. for the ferry. this is what they do with new troops down this way. here we have had poor food but this cannot be helped for it is impossible for food to be kept here long for it is so warm in the day. but as soon as night comes then we have to put on our overcoats to make us comfortable which is almost impossible. our tents are small but good. this morning we had to pitch our tents in line and then wash up so as to be clean as possible for inspection. then I got a chance to go where I wanted to for a long time. I went in the direction of Fairfax courthouse. I went about 3 miles from our fort but found no one that I was acquainted with. there are none New York troops very near here as I can find. they are all New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island troops. they are all bully boys you can make up your mind. but wherever we stopped we heard the cheers of all. they would cheer every time we told them where we were from.
I forgot to mention one thing we saw in Baltimore. the night we were there was 192 prisoners arrived there. they were enough to sicken a person to look at them they were clothed so poorly and they were so dirty above all. I had to leave before I could see them all on the account of their being so badly wounded some with wounds in legs arms bodies and heads. it was a dreadful sight for me to see. I hope that I will never have to witness another such a sight again in my short life. they have been prisoners for weeks and they say they have been used well and hope soon to be exchanged. They said that they were glad to see us. for they would have more more to kill of us Yankees. wasn't this provoking if they are not cripples I could have seen them all shot in one moment.



Fragment of a letter no date, place, etc......

Titles wherever they may meet. I think that it is a good plan to get more men into the field for it has got to be stopped by fighting and the sooner the better for all concerned. You think Gen. Gilmore is slow but give him time and the city of Charleston, and all the surrounding country will be in his possession ere the noted Gen. e. Will know it. the rebs have James Island strongly fortified and it will have to be taken from them by inches I think and we are planting heavy guns on Long Island to shell James Island with Fort Sumter has had to take another bombarding for a few days past also the batteries on Sullivans Island then we will have a good land force to act with the navy and the "Greek fire" which has caused the reb Gen so much trouble. I suppose that you have the election returns by this time. how does the empire state speak this fall. I cannot say whether I will come home this winter or not. If I was to come it might not pay for it is a good ways to go. One of our men is a going this week. he is to be gone 30 days then another is to go but who I cannot tell. but I would like to come home and be there through the holidays. I think I could enjoy myself very well. I think if I was to be at home I would not have to pay five cents a piece for little hard apples. I have paid as much as 10 cents for one large apple. We can get sweet potatoes by paying 8 cents and northern potatoes by paying 6 cents per lb. we do not get any hardtack. lately we get soft bread. we have a large bakery on the Island. I must give you a little sketch of a good time we had in camp. On Saturday afternoon last he regiment was drawn up in line of battle and Gen. Bogsbie and staff, Gen Foster and staff and numerous other officers appeared in front. with Colonel Buell the latter bearing a splendid sword which was presented to our Lieut Col. It was from the citizens of Troy in honor to him for his bravery on the battlefield of Shiloh in 61 I think where he was severely wounded by a minnie ball while in the act of leading his company up to a charge. He was in front of them and cried to his men to come on. which is engraved on the sword. its value is $1000. it is a nice thing and the right man has got it also. no more now my love to all from your son.
J. B Randall


The above letter was written from Long Island probably, which is across from James Island near Charleston S. C. probably in the summer of 1863.
No date Possibly 1863



Dear brother.

I hope ....... to a better advantage than I ever did but when you are studying there just think of James what he is doing down in Old Virginia. I do not know in whose division I am in for certain if we are in any we are in Geigels? Kiss Jessie for me and tell the Deacon to fetch in all the eggs every day. Tell Victoria that I will send her money as soon as I get it. How do my skates go and what have you done with them I have no more to write you only to tell you to write to me often. Do not wait for me you can not improve your time better. Your affectionate Brother. James



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