This letter was written by Hiram Mattison, Jr. (1831-1897) who, at age 29, enlisted in May 1861 to serve two years in Co. A, 24th New York Volunteers. He mustered in as a private and was transferred too Co. H in May 1862. He mustered out with the company in May 1863 at Elmira, New York. The 24th New York Infantry was commanded by Col. Timothy Sullivan.
Hiram, Jr. was the son of Hiram Mattison (1811-1867) and Melinda Dunham (1813-1840) of Lycoming, Oswego County, New York.
The letter was written a couple of weeks after the First Battle of Bull Run but the 24th New York was not a participant.
Arlington Mills, Virginia
August 6th 1861
You will excuse my abrupt letter although we were once friends, but now are not as near friends as I would like to be. Nevertheless, I will write believing you are sufficiently posting in the rules of etiquette and hospitality to answer it. Your cousin Washington is here. It is rather unfortunate for him as he has of late lost one of his fingers by the accidental discharge of his gun. I have a great regard for him as he is young in years and far from home, inexperienced, not accustomed to hard fare or the ways of the world. [I] shall try to be a friend to him as longs as he remains in the regiment. Will you inform his father as your earliest convenience.
I should be proud to have a letter from you. Give me the general details of news of the boys and girls and all the news of interest—who is married and who would like to be, and so on.
We are but a short distance from the enemy. [We] see them every day.
You’ll excuse my bad penmanship as I have no table to write upon. My table is the ground. Direct you letters if you write [to] Washington DC, 24th Regt NYV, care of Col. Sullivan.
Your with proper filial respect, — H. Mattison