Correspondence - 91st New York Infantry Regiment

Correspondence Of Major John B. Collin
91st Regiment, New York Volunteers
Transcribed By Sue Hotaling 

Note: The museum does not own the originals of these letters. Photocopies were used to transcribe this collection.

Fayetteville Oct 19th 1861

Dear Bro,
A thought has just occurred to me that it is about time that I answered your last letter. Letter writing I find is sadly neglected by me. In fact am getting so that I almost forget that it is my duty to write occasionaly. But still you must consider the old adage as truthful as ever that no news is good news. I thought I would write a few lines before the mail goes out although I have but a few moments to spare. But will write enough to let you know that I am still in the land of the living. People find more fault with the weather of late than most any thing else, as it has been nothing but rain. Rain for the past four weeks. We have had snow here, an inch deep. Republicanism is on the increase and as prosperous as ever. A large mass meeting is to be held in Syracuse next Monday. Wm. H. Seward, Carl Schurz and other distinguished men are expected to be present. A grand wide awake demonstration is to take place in the evening. I am in hopes I shall have the privilege to attend. (.) wide awakes are making arrangements to [attend and] as I number one among the ranks I think I shall be present.
I have been looking for my water keg this long time but have not seen anything of it yet. My shirts I also need very much and wish you would send them to me as soon as convenient. If you have no other opportunity send them by express and I will pay the charges. But would prefer to have you bring them yourself I am in hopes to see you out here sometime in the course of the fall or winter. Julia has given up coming I guess as I here nothing from her. My time is about up I shall have to stop so this is as good a place as any. I will leave the rest to be continues in my next ledger.
With love to all I remain your Brother James

JB Collin

Maj. J.B. Collin Papers
Number 1 & 2

Dated 28th (.)68

Collin J.B.
Capt 91st Reg N.Y. Vols
Requests that the Enlisted men now at Fort McHenry belonging to that detachment be returned to their respective Co’s.
[One Buchanan]

Maj. J.B. Collin papers
Number 3

Monocacy Junction
Oct 28th 1864

Capt. Oliver [Mathews]
8th Army Corps.


I would respectfully request that the enlisted men now at Fort McHenry Baltimore belonging to the detachment stationed at this Post be returned to their respective Companies.
Co’s. (.), (.), H & K.

I am very Respv
Your Obed.[Serv]

Capt. (.) Detachment of
91st N.Y. V. Vols.

Maj. J.B. Collin Papers
Number 4

Fort McHenry MD
Nov [1, 1861]

Capt. John B. Collin
I have the honor [to have] with transmit the Receipts [Rolls] all that they want tis the signatures of the men that you have there and then return these so the monthly Returns can be made out.

( . )
Very Respectfully
Your Obd Servt.
Wm. [H. Avery, Jr]

Thinking that we will come out from this before long, I will not send the (….) but all your Clothes are in your Trunk.
Wm. [H. Avery, Jr]

Maj. J.B. Collin Papers
Number 5

[John’s Barracks]
At “Camp Parole”
Capts. (..)Detachment 91st N.Y.(.)
Annapolis, MD Feb / 65

Our Dear Sister Mary,
Perhaps you will be surprised to hear that we have left our permanent camp at Monocacy, but you cannot be more so than I was when the Capt. Received a Telegraphic order to be in “readiness to move at very short notice”. I confess for my [heart] I was alarmed as well, as well as surprised for I doubted not the Capt. Was immediately to lead the troops to the “Front”. Since for some days the Military Authorities had taken entire possession of the “Baltimore X Ohio R.R.” and Gen. Thomas’ whole army was passing over it. I had watched with interest the long trains of soldiers as they passed by our window, but now feared the Capt. must accompany them for some region unknown. Fortunately not however, for a few hours later came the Order and (.) for them to depart for Annapolis.
As they left in rough order and without proper accommodations for the ladies, the Capt thought best to leave me behind in company with the wife of a Lieut (a later arrival in our camp than myself.) We remained here at Monocacy a week, when the Capt. returned on Leave of Absence and escorted us to Annapolis. The week seemed a very long one and if it had not been for the personal friendship of “Telegraphic Operators” allowing our dispatched to pass, notwithstanding the Telegraph line like the railroad was under military supervision, would have been (.) unendurable. 
Our present “Camp” is a large one composed of long rows and groups of “Barracks” neatly white washed and capable of holding fifteen thousand men. There are four thousand paroled Union prisoners here now and these the Capt is guarding with his detachment of troops.
We have a large pleasant room in one of the Officers Barracks with a small room adjoining for Mike. While across the hall the Lieuts wife are quartered. The first day or two after my arrival we “messed” with other officers, but now we are “messing” (.). I fancy you would have been amused could you have seen us take our first “tea”. Together alone with my (.”..)set”, the Captains “moustache cup” and two servants, “Mike” and a little darkey to wait upon us.
I really wish you could look in our “Barrack” and see how easily we have things arranged. I had brought nearby bedding, enough for our little “Bunk”, but an “ Army blanket”-served for [camp] entrance and “Army blanket” for carpet. Jim Reynolds is at (.) detached as Capts. “Orderly”, and has assisted him in making a table, cupboard, arranging fancifully convenient shelves, etc. Then the Capt. and servant went down town (we are two miles from the city) and brought up baskets and bundles of “messing utensils”. I am delighted and surprised to find the Captain so excellent a hand at arranging the details of an “establishment”, and rely upon his taste even more than my own.
We have a fine “Drum Corps” here and I delight to hear them beat the “Army Calls”. The [lieut] next door also plays the banjo, so we have snatches of music at all hours. This same [lieut] is a good cook too and yesterday sent us an excellent pudding. One of the Captains (.) have just received a bag from home, consequently sent us a pair of cans of preserved fruit. This reminds one of the bag of goodies that reached me at Monocacy. I believe the Capt. wrote you at the time acknowledging and thanking you for them, but I did not think so long a time would elapse before I wrote you again for I wished to tell you for myself that (.) heartily appreciates the kind thoughtfulness which led our “Loving Sister Mary” thus to remember us.
Capt. Jean received a letter from you a day or two since. We were very glad to hear from home. You seem lonely with all your older brothers and sisters away from home nor do I wonder that you are so, and I often think of you, but I suppose we shall some day be astonished to hear that even Mary had wandered away from home too, in the care of some noble (.).
Capt wishes me to ask if you sent his violin to the depot, Corporal [F] passed through Hillsdale in the night so could not get it. If you have not already sent it by express you need not do so now, as it is doubtful whether we remain here long.
[A Great Deal of] Love to All (.)
Capt. [V]

Maj. J .B. Collin Papers
Number 6-9

Head Quarters Company B
91st Regiment N.Y. Vols
Rear Port Hudson June 20th 1863

My Dear Mother,
I have been anxious to get time sufficient enough that I might write you a few lines, but as I am situated I must do the best that I can. This morning is Saturday and a very hot day it is. Everything seems more quiet than usual still the sounds of the cannon leaves one to believe that the two bastille cannons are still at work. [Steady] and slowly and time must soon be evidence of the reduction of this “rebel stronghold”. It will soon be a month since the commencement of the Battle at Port Hudson and still it appears that we have not gained mush as yet, if we must reduce the place by fighting we have hard work before us. Still we have the enemy so completely surrounded that they have but a small place to live in. Our troops are nearly under their works and are now at work mining them and will probably blow up a portion of the works in order that our men may get in without charging their parapets. The difficulty is here the Enemies works are situated [or thrown] up on the banks of a very high ravine and this ravine is filled with fallen timber, in order to get access to the works we must charge through these deep ravines and the works run at such angles that we are exposed to a murderous and (.) fore from the enemy. One man behind such a strong works are equal to five outside. Still we are bound to capture Port Hudson in (.) of their strong works.
Last Sunday the 14th [took] place one of the most desperate Battles of the war or probably one of the most desperate fights that we shall have here.
The Battle opened at day break on Sunday morning with Artillery from our very “Batteries” and soon we were ordered to forward and storm the works of the enemy and after fighting all day we were obliged to retire [gaining] but little with great loss of our troops. Our Regiment was one of the first in the charge, among the Officers killed on that day was Capt Hulbert of our Regiment. The Capt and myself were very intimate friends and were together so much that it was often remarked that we were like brothers and I mourn his loss with deep regret- he was a fine young officer and (.) his parents how they will feel to hear of his death. Lieut. Benjamin died from a wound received in the head. He was a son of Nathan Benjamin of Egremont where (.) used to board.
A person cannot well describe the scenes of a Battlefield, when I enlisted in the contest in the morning I never expected to get out safe. Still I am thankful to be shielded from such danger. I hope that I have put my trust in God and there it shall remain forever.
In the fight on the 27th day of May out loss in killed and wounded was eighty-six and three Officers wounded and in the fight on the 23rd of May we lost twenty- killed and wounded and with our losses during the Campaign through the “(.)” Country all amounting to over two hundred and twenty.
I fear there will not be any 91st Regiment after the capture of Port Hudson. I don’t know but I will have [war] enough after this place is taken. I really hope that our hard fighting is over but I fear it is not. The rebels are bound to hold out for they know the Port is important to us. I presume this den of treason will be seduced by [Serge] for if we carry the works by storm (.) loss of lives will be fearful. It seems as though if all had been made ready we might have taken the Port on the first days fight. Our Generals do not seem to cooperate with each other and then the nine months men will not fight like the old troops, a few old Regiments have done the hard fighting, so far still the nine month men get all the honor. I hope the time will come when justice will be done in our Army, if I was out of the service where I might express myself, but now I will do my duty and (..) for regard to home matters. I suppose you are all well and busy as usual as the (.) of household duties. How I would like to be home today such life as this makes a person think of his home. How many a young man I have heard say, “If I ever get home again how I will appreciate that home”. Home is a dear thought to one in such a place as this, a person lives a life time in a moment. I trust that I may live to see you all again. I hope you will not be uneasy about me. I notice in a letter from Brooklyn that (.) is in business in New York, I hope he is prosperous. I hope when I write again I will be in Port Hudson. Remember me to all.
From your Son John

Maj. J.B.Collin Papers
Number 10-16

February 27th 1863.

Special Orders
No. 47
[Paramount] to telegraphic instructions received from (…) Dept. the Companies of the 91st N.Y.() Vols now on duty at Camp Parole near Annapolis, MD are thereby relieved, and directed to proceed immediately to the City of Annapolis, MD, then to take the Steamer, with the remainder of their regiment, enroute for City Point, VA.
The A.(..) at Annapolis, MD will furnish the necessary transportation for baggage and company property.

By Order, Col. F. D. Sewall
(…)Commanding District

(…) A.A.A. General

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 17

Utica, N.Y.,
Aug. [13th 1863]

Many of the Officers of the Volunteer Service were commissioned and mustered into the service of their respective States some time before being mustered into the service of the United States, and have
not received the pay due them for the intermediate time. By special act of Congress this pay is now
collectable; it is paid by a certificate payable to the order of the officer, and requiring his endorsement;
the certificate is then payable on presentation to any U. S. Paymaster.
If you have a claim for pay between the dates of your State and United States muster, I should be 
glad to collect it for you, and can assure you as prompt returns as it is possible for any one to secure.

My Charge will be $5; not Payable until you Claim is Decided by the

This fee of $5 covers all charges except for postage.

If you desire me to make the collection, please send me answers to the following:
1. Your Name in full.
2. Your Age.
3. Your Rank at the time for which you Claim Pay.
4. The Number of your Regiment, and Letter of Company, and Name of your State.
5. The Date of your Commission.
6. The Date of your State Muster.
7. The Date of your United States Muster.
8. The Date from which you have been Paid.

Upon receipt of this information, I will send you by return mail proper papers for you to execute to
Enable me to procure you the amount due.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
No. 81 Genesee St., Utica, Oneida Co. N.Y.

Maj. Gen. D. A. Butterfield Brig. Gen. J.H.(.)
Brig. Gen. J. Bartlet Col. Jas. McQuade, (.) N.Y.
Col. R. H. (.) Col. Chas. Wheeler, (.) N.Y.
Col. Wm. (..), 117th N.Y.

Hon. H. Seymour (.) 
Hon. Wm. J. (.) 
Maj, J. B. Collin Papers
Number 18

Head Quarters U.S. (.)
Brashear City, La. Dec 15. 1863

Special Orders
No. 123.

1st (.) “Board of Survey” is hereby Ordered, to convene at 10 and a half o’clock A.M. this day at the Office of the Post Ordnance Officer, for the purpose of surveying and reporting on some Ordnances and Ordnance Stores it this Post.
The Board will consist of the following named Officers:

Captain J. B. Collin 91st Regt N. Y. Vols.
Lieut. E. Rice 1st Vermont Battery
Lieut. Geo. E. Abbott 131st Regt N. Y. Vols.

By Command of
J. Tarbell
Lieut. Col.[Commd’g] Post

V.B.M. [Berger]
Lieut and Post Adjt.

Maj, J. B. Collin Papers
Number 19

Head Quarters First Separate Brigade
Eighth Army Corps.
Relay House, Md [December] (.), 1864

Capt. J. B. Collins

Enclosed I forward a copy of a letter from Dept (…) please notify me of the arrival of the (.) at Monocacy, so as an order can be made to (…)

I am [Capt]
(.) Respectfully (…)
Wm W. Lobdell

[Gen] A. A. A. (.)

Maj J. B. Collin Papers
Number 20

Ordnance Office
War Department.
Washington, D. C. , Oct 6, 1863

Commanding Officer
Co. “H”: 91st N. York Inf.


The Company History appertaining to Company “H”, 91st Regiment, N. York Inf, from Sept 28, 1861 to Sept 11, 1863, for the non-rendition of which, as prescribed by the regulations of this Department, you were reposted to the Adjutant General of the Army, on the 25th Aug 1863, with the recommendation that all pay due you might be stopped, having today been received at this office, a request has been sent to the Paymaster General of the Army that the stoppage on this [request] may be removed.

By order of the Chief of Ordnance
Geo. (B )
Captain of Ordnance
Assistant to Chief (.)

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 21

Camp in the field
Near (.) Run
March 17th 1865

My Very Dear Mother,
As my Regiment is now at the front exposed to all the danger and hardship of real Army life doubtless you still suffer some anxiety to know of my safety and of my location during the present campaign. Since our move here everything has been very quiet indeed (.) a general getting ready for a forward movement—all surplus baggage is being moved to the Rear. [Suthers] (.)
to leave (.) loaded with ammunition. Men being thoroughly clothed and the whole army in readiness to move at the Sound of the Bugle and Drum.
Of course we cannot surmise and conjecture what the next move of the Army of the Potomac will be. The condition of things look bright to us here- the troops are in fine spirits and the Army has increased wonderfully during the winter, it is really wonderful to see the vast number of troops here, as far as one can look, nothing but the (..) fields is [present] to view. The movements of the Army are as a game of chess- the movements of the Army of the Potomac and that of the [James] depend upon the moves made by Sherman and [Sheridan] and probably Schofield is somewhat [blundering] the enemy.
I hope this spring will see the end of the war, I think both(……), we will [thank them well this spring].
I am getting rather tires of the service now that I have a wife that I love and my health is not as it used to be. I do not feel near as strong as I used to be. But I see no chance of leaving the service in the present time so I must remain as (.) and [quiet] as possible.
I hope that I may be fortunate enough to escape through the coming campaign. I have always thought and have a (.) that I would see the end of this war.
I always (.) to look on the bright side of life- but manage dear one the (.) made in restoration of our country and the “(.) Flag” which in triumph shall (..) the land of the free and the home of the brave. I received a letter from Mary a few moments ago from Washington Hollow and (…) she is home again. I suppose (.) + (.) are also in Hillsdale at the present time. No doubt it will be very pleasant to have him so near to home, I fashioned a letter to James tonight and was intending to write to Julia. Jim Reynolds sends his regards to all-he is very anxious about his family as he has not heard from them since he (.). I intend to make Jim my Servant- to take charge of my baggage, if so he will not see much fighting . I have been on the Sick list nearly ever since I came to be at the front, I shall go to the city tomorrow. St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated today in the (.) Brigade of the [2] Corps.. Reynolds says a lad was thrown from his horse in racing and broke his neck- I reckon he will not celebrate another St. Patrick’s Day or the (.). Remember me to all (..) Love to the family.
From (..) Son,

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 22-25

Claim of J B Collin
Department of the Interior
Pension Office
April 12, 1886

Inc. No. 568395 [Jaco] B.
Collins Capt “H” Regt. 91st

(signed) John (.) Black

FG [Caldron]
422 Fifth St.
Washington DC

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 26

No. 495 12th Street, between E and F

Adjustment of Officers’ Accounts; Stoppages of Pay Removed,
Bounties, Pensions, Arrears of Pay, Prize Money, & Claims for Horses


Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 27

Headquarters first Separate Brigade
Relay House Oct 24th 1864

Paroles and Countersigns for the week
ending October 30th 1864.
Oct 24th Reicketts Monocacy
“ 25th Bidwell Winchester
“ 26th Grover Fisher’s Hill
“ 27th Wright Coal Harbor
“ 28th Sheridan Cedar Creek
“ 29th Macauley Champion Hill
“ 30th [Torbert] Strasburg
By command of Brig. General E. B. Tyler
(..) Webb 
Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 28

Washington D. C.
May 11th 1865

Friend John, 
I take the liberty to enclose herewith some cards.
Mr. Ettinger is a friend of mine having been in the Army for the past 3 years.
Should you or any of your fellow Officers require any [apistance] in his line I can (.) you that all [business] will be promptly attended to and at a moderate expense.
Hoping to hear from you or see you soon. I remain
Very Respectfully
Your Friend
C B Vic King

D. C.

Maj J. B. Colln Papers
Number 29

Head (.) 8th Reg.
(.) Vols.
March 1863


As there been an order issued from Hd (.) requesting all men that are deserters to report to their respective regiments and if complied with within sixty days they will be pardoned and knowing of no other way of rejoining the 91st only through you. I have the honor to request that you will see that I am returned and in doing so you will confer a great favor in me.
I am Sir Very Respectfully
Your Most [Off Sol]
Wm. [Nary]
Com “J” 8th [Conn] Vols
24th A. G.
J. B. Collins
Capt Com “H”
91st N.Y.S.V.

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 30

Department of the Interior
Bureau of Pensions
Washington, D. C. Aug [1] ,1902

Your claim for pension has been received, recorded, and given a number as below, and will be taken up for action in its regular turn.
Your claim is entitled [Wid] 6 No. 767254
John B Collins
Co. K [14] Reg’t N. Y. Inf.
and in all communications relative thereto be sure and state the same in full 
as above. Very respectfully,
H Clay [Evan](.)

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 31

Head Quarters [195th] Reg [Pa] Vols.
Monocacy [Junction] Sept 1st 1864

I have the honor to forward you the following named prisoner who was arrested, charged with, having been drafted and deserting to the enemy. 
(.) Said Prisoner arrested September 1st 1864.
C. H. Marks George [Hefner]
Resp your obedient Servant
[Lieut] Col. [Wooley] [M.A. Caldwell]
(..) Baltimore, Md Capt + Asst (.) Marshall
1st (.) Reg 8. AC

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 32

Office Pro. Mar. 1st [Sep] Brig,8th AC
Fort Dix Relay House, Md
September 9th 1864

Received of Sergeant Rathvon Co. “[C]” 195 Penn. Volunteers, two prisoners-
Corporal J. P. W. Ross and Corporal Peter McDonald.

John H. Shane
Lt. and Commissary of Prisoners
per Shane, (.)

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 33

Apr. 10th 1865

Ring bells. A joyful peal!
Ring out the glad news far and wide,
Toll with your brazen tongues
The death knell of rebel wrongs
For Might and Right are on our side.
Ring out the joyful peal!

Roar, deep mouthed cannon, roar,
Sound through the land “Rebellion’s dead”,
Tell from your iron throats
The vulture no more gloats
Our battle field with carnage red.
Roar “Slavery is no more”.

Make glad the night, oh fire!
Flash forth the nation’s deep delight,
Melt down oppressions chains,
Burn to ashes what remains
Of treason creeping out of sight.
Flame up,
Rebellions’ funeral pyre!

Shout, all ye people, shout
Call to the land beyond the sea
Here the Sun of Freedom beams
And beneath it proudly gleams
The flag which shall our ensign be.
For flag and country, shout.

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 34 & 35

Apr. [18th], 1865

Lead_ the leader_dead,
Of twenty millions or more,
What shall become of a nation forlorn
When the head from that nation is ruthlessly torn
By a craven heart, vile to the core!

Shot! Yes, that was the word.
Perish the traitorous hand!
Was’t a bare act of his own, do they say,
Or was he a Judas like tool in the pay
Of a cowardly miscreant band.

What shall our People do?
Our Ship bravely weathered the gale
But standing bewildered we gaze o’er the main,
For lowering clouds seem returning again
And the Stoutest is trembling and pale.

O Great God, hear our pray’s!
For guidance the whole land cries to Thee,
Give our people the wisdom to know and to do,
And our people the patience and trust to be true,
Let us still be the Land of the Free.

[M.} P.

Have had no time to
polish this up.

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 36 & 37

Undated Note

The negro Joe is here. He says he did not drive her army since last Thursday. Then he drove her to Frederick. She says she has remained true [eves] time and has not yet returned nor does not know when she will come back. He crossed the river at Weldon's Pond. this is all the further information I would obtain. If I learn anything further I will advise you. Hoe says he was not outside the picket line today.

... (Unreadable names)

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 38

United States of America
State of Maryland

I Alice Thomas do Swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America, that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies and opposes whatsoever_ That I have not at any time given aid or Comfort to the enemies there of_ that I will obey all laws of (.) and proclamations of the President_.

So help me God_
(….) Alice Thomas seal
before me this 3rd day 
of September AD, 1864

Capt & Asst Pro(.)
[1 Sep] By 8 Corps

Maj. J. B. Collin Papers
Number 39