DescriptionUnion Soldiers Benjamin Franklin and William Addison Hosford, Company D, 2nd Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery, Archive of Letters. Fifty six letters, various sizes and lengths, dating from 1852 to 1911, from various members of the Hosford family in Hartford, Connecticut, and Cummington, Massachusetts, regarding family matters and the Civil War. Thirty five of the letters are from Benjamin Franklin Hosford and William Addison Hosford, dating from April 30, 1861 to April 7, 1865, to family members, especially their mother, concerning their activities in the army during the Civil War.
There are seventeen letters in the archive from Benjamin F. Hosford, all but one to his mother Sophia Hosford, concerning his Civil War activities. The earliest of these letter was written from New Haven, Connecticut, on April 30, 1861 informing his mother that he and his younger brother Charles Lyman Hosford (1839-1927) "have both enlisted in the Winsted Rifle Company [2nd Connecticut Volunteer Infantry], and are now quartered in this city waiting further orders....It does not seem now that we will have to face the enemy at all, but if we do, I am ready to 'pitch in.'" On May 20, Hosford wrote his mother from Washington, D.C., and reported that he arrived in the nation's capital on May 14. "We have been very busy since in fixing up our camp grounds....We do not contemplate any fighting within the time for which we enlisted [three months], although we are all mighty anxious to step over into Virginia, and 'clean out' a few encampments of secessionists, who are already in sight of us on the oposite [sic] banks of the Potomac river." By early June, Hosford's regiment was still in Washington. In a June 5 letter to his mother, he wrote that "Our boys are all healthy, and itching to have a scrape with the Southern devils."
Two of Hosford's letters home describe his time back in Connecticut after his three month's service ended. It appears that he looked for employment before re-enlisting in the service with the 19th Connecticut Infantry sometime in September 1862. By October 1 Hosford was in camp in Alexandria, Virginia, and told his mother that "we have a double duty to do now, viz. guarding the City of Alexandria & drilling every ½ day besides. I am on Patrol duty every other night in the city and as often as every 3d day besides." Later that month Hosford was afflicted with bilious fever, which he referred to in a December 4 letter to his sister. "I certainly have had a long, hard time of it with the Bilious fever. It will be six weeks tomorrow since I was taken down and I am not well enough to go into camp yet. I was taken by the Surgeon to a private boarding house in town...where I have received the best of care all for 4 dollars per week, which is considered very cheap here. The fact is, this is about the only Union family in the city, they are northern folks. The Secesh people charge from 7 to 10 dollars per week for board, and there are lots of sick officers of the army here who are obliged to pay 10 dollars a week for a place to stay, and poor at that."
Hosford had recovered from his illness by the beginning of 1863 and was stationed in Fort Worth, near Alexandria, Virginia, which was part of the defenses of Washington, D.C. By the fall of 1863 and winter of 1864, Hosford was working as an army recruiter in a Conscript Camp at Fair Haven, Connecticut. In an October 1 letter to his mother, Hosford described his duties at the camp. "My duty at present is to inspect all the conscripts as they come in, to see that they have none but Government clothes, etc., etc." He was back at Fort Worth by the beginning of 1864. On January 29, 1865, Hosford wrote his mother that the Confederate forces were deserting in large numbers and that Lee's army was on its last legs. "A great many Rebels come into our lines & give themselves up every day & I believe Genl. Lee's Army must be growing weaker every day. The Rebels will have to give up I think before many months have passed perhaps before many weeks have passed. They never can stand another such a campaign as they experienced last summer & fall....I never was so heartily sick of the war as I am this winter."
There are eighteen letters in the archive by William Addison Hosford, a younger brother of Benjamin, with all but two to his mother. His first letter, dated June 28, is from Elmira, New York, where Hosford and his regiment, the 24th New York Infantry, were waiting orders to depart to Washington, D.C. By the beginning of 1862, Hosford was in Arlington, Virginia, working as a clerk for General Irvin McDowell in Robert E. Lee's former home. In a January 27, 1862 letter to his brother Benjamin, Hosford provided an update on his activities. "My health is good, and I just succeeded in obtaining a detail as clerk to Gen. McDowell, and while I write am sitting in his office in Gen. Lee's house - big thing-McDowell's clerk." Captured in the Second Battle of Bull Run in August 1862, Hosford was eventually freed through prisoner exchange sometime in later that year. He completed his service with the 24th New York Infantry in May 1863. The beginning of 1864 found Hosford back in "Uncle Samuel's Service," working in New Haven, Connecticut, as a clerk in the "Post Adjutant's Office" in the same Conscript Camp in which his brother Benjamin was working, according to a January 11, 1864 letter to his mother.
In a letter to his mother, dated March 8, 1864, Hosford was, along with his brother Benjamin, with the 2nd Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery, at Fort Worth, Virginia. "I am now fairly a soldier again, and I assure you I am contented and happy to be here. I am really and heartily glad to be again in the service, for we have a government worth sustaining." Passing through City Point, Virginia, in September 1864, Hosford wrote his mother concerning General Ulysses S. Grant in a September 9 letter. "Genl. Grant's Head Quarters are here, and like a true soldier he lives in a tent. He is a very plain man, seems always in a deep study, often converses with the common soldier as freely as with commissioned officers, and is the favorite of all who know him."
By the end of 1864, Hosford's regiment participated in General Grant's siege of Petersburg, Virginia. In a December 12, 1864 letter to his mother, Hosford wrote that "I cannot tell of course what Genl. Grant's plans are, but I do believe he will make some great attack upon the Enemy before long. The Rebs can never drive us from our position here-we are too well fortified & have too many men for them but I do think we can dislodge them."
In addition to the Civil War letters of the two Hosford brothers, there are twenty one from various family members, including several from Sophia Hosford to her children, dating from the 1850s to 1911, concerning family matters.
Condition: The letters have the usual horizontal and vertical folds, but otherwise are in good condition. One Benjamin Franklin Hosford letter, dated December 4, 1862, has a small portion torn off the bottom, affecting the first two pages of a four page bifolium, but does not appear to have affected the text.
Benjamin Franklin Hosford (1835-1864) was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, the seventh child of Arad (1795-1859) and Sophia Bardwell Hosford (1802-1872). He enlisted in the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Infantry in New Haven, Connecticut, sometime in April, 1861. He later joined the 19th Connecticut Infantry Volunteers in September 1862. The regiment was re-designated the 2nd Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery in November 1863. Hosford served in Company D, 2nd Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery. He was shot in the head and killed on October 19, 1864 at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia.
William Addison Hosford (1837-1912), brother of Benjamin Franklin Hosford, was the eighth child of Arad and Sophia Hosford. He was employed as a teacher in Oswego, New York, when he enlisted at age 23 in Company B, 24th New York Infantry in May 1861, from which he mustered out in late May 1863. While with the 24th, Hosford was captured on August 30, 1862 during the Second Battle of Bull Run. He later enlisted with Company D, 2nd Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery, and served as a quartermaster sergeant. Hosford and his wife, Alice Rebecca Simpson, lived in Connecticut for a short time after their marriage in 1866. They then homesteaded in Voorhees Valley, near St. Edwards, Nebraska, about 1870 and later moved about 1894 to Albion, Nebraska, where Hosford died in 1912.
The 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was organized in New Haven and was mustered into service on May 7, 1861 for three months duty. After serving in the defenses of Washington, the regiment was mustered out on August 7, 1861.
The 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery was known as the 19th Infantry Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers until November 23, 1863. In May 1864, the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery was sent to the Army of the Potomac, where it was assigned to the Second Brigade, First Division, VI Corps. It suffered its first loss during skirmish duty along the North Anna River. The 2nd Connecticut's first battle was at Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864, where it suffered 323 men killed or wounded, including Hosford. The regiment participated in the beginning stages of the Siege of Petersburg before it was transferred to the VI Corps to participate in the 1864 Shenandoah Campaign, during which it suffered heavy losses. In December, the regiment was sent back to the Army of the Potomac. It fought in the breakthrough at Petersburg and the Appomattox Campaign.
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