1862-64: Adoniram Judson Clark to Samuel W. Clark

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Capt. A. Judson Clark (1862)

These two letters were written by Adoniram Judson Clark (1838-1913) who “enlisted in the 1st New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in April 1861, and became a sergeant in Company F. When the regiment’s three-month enlistment ended, Clark was involved in raising Battery B, 1st New Jersey Light Artillery. It was mustered into service on September 3, 1861, at Camp Olden in Trenton, New Jersey. The battery was assigned to the First New Jersey Brigade under the command of Brigadier General Philip Kearny. Clark became first lieutenant under Capt John E. Beam.

The battery served in the Peninsula Campaign, assigned to III Corps. Beam was killed in the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862. Upon the death of Beam, Clark was promoted to the rank of captain. He commanded the battery to the end of the war. The battery was not engaged again until the Battle of Fredericksburg, in which it was assigned to second division III Corps under Brigadier General Daniel Sickles. Clark commanded the artillery attached to first division III Corps at the Battle of Chancellorsville under Brigadier General David B. Birney.

In the artillery brigade of the III Corps, Clark and his battery served at the Battle of Gettysburg. His guns were deployed in an exposed position near the Peach Orchard on July 2, 1863, but then were moved to safer ground. The battery fired on the Confederate troops advancing from Warfield Ridge before being forced to withdraw. Clark reported that he pulled out when support disappeared on either flank. [See Clark’s After Action Report from Battle of Gettysburg.] When Captain George E. Randolph, the brigade’s commander, was wounded, Clark became acting commander. He retained brigade command in the Bristoe Campaign. Randolph returned in time for the Battle of Mine Run, and Clark resumed battery command.

When III Corps was abolished, Clark’s battery was transferred to the Reserve Artillery in the brigade of Major John A. Tompkins. In that formation, Clark’s battery served in the early battles of the Overland Campaign. By the time of the Battle of Cold Harbor, Clark’s battery had been transferred to the artillery brigade of II Corps under Colonel John C. Tidball. In the Siege of Petersburg, Clark’s battery remained in II Corp under Tidball and then under Colonel John G. Hazard. Clark was slightly wounded at the Second Battle of Ream’s Station in 1864. Later he escorted the troops in his battery whose enlistments had expired back to Trenton, New Jersey, before returning to the Petersburg front. Back at Petersburg, Clark was in charge of the artillery on the front lines of II Corps in December 1864.

At the beginning of the Appomattox Campaign, Clark’s battery provided support to II Corps troops engaged at the Battle of Sutherland’s Station. Following the Confederate surrender, Clark and his command were mustered out on June 16, 1865.” [Source: Wikipedia.]

Clark was the son of Samuel Clark (1791-1869) and Livia Drusilla Wellman (17989-1849) of Manlius, Onondaga county, New York. He wrote this letter to his older brother, Samuel W. Clark (1825-1892) of Newark, Essex county, New Jersey—a long time school teacher in Newark and principal of public school No. 3 in 1860. Samuel was married in 1851 to Sarah Mayhew in Newark.

Those interested in the 1st New Jersey Light Artillery might also enjoy reading the 22 letters I transcribed by Cornelius Van Houten (1841-1916) who served in Clark’s Battery B.  Capt. Clark is mentioned in several of his letters.

[Note: These letters are from the private collection of Jim Doncaster and are published by express consent. The image in the header is of Fort Davis where Clark’s men built “the magazines, barbettes for the guns, and all that sort of thing” in the fall of 1864. This photograph was taken from the southeast angle of the fort looking north. The Jerusalem Plank Road can be seen just beyond the two structures at right.]


Headquarters Reserve Artillery
3rd Corps
October 10, 1862

Dear brother Sam,

I have a few moments to share this morning and I know of no one who has a better claim on them than you. It is a great habit with me not to write to anybody until I have news to tell that I think will interest them but I shall make this an exception for I have nothing whatever to tell except that we are well and in pretty good spirits. We received an order day before yesterday to get ready for the field immediately and as nearly all of our supply trains had been given to other corps, we have had to scratch around and get new ones. Have been acting as Artillery of the Reserve 3rd Corps during the absence of Captain [Walter M.] Bramhall and this has kept me rather busier than usual as I have attended to that as well as my own battery matters. He has been for a week now on a trip down to the Rappahannock bridge with 2,000 cavalry.

Bully! My orderly has just come in & says that Capt. Bramhall has just returned, having left his Battery at Centreville and will be over to see me in a few moments. It pleases me very much for I think a great deal of him. Besides, it will relieve me of the command of the reserve. What he has done, I don’t know.

We will probably move tomorrow—at least that is the expectation at Headquarters, and I think now it will be to Thoroughfare Gap and perhaps down the Shenandoah Valley.

We are in pretty good condition for the field with the exception of some 25 of our horses having a disease of the hoof which makes them very lame. It is something I never saw before and has come within two weeks. My own horse is troubled with it. As yet we have found no cure for it. Many farriers think it a form of “Glanders.” Otherwise we are in good condition for the field. But the mail carrier is waiting. Goodbye for now.

Love to all. Affectionately your brother,– Jud



Headquarters Battery B, First New Jersey
[Before Petersburg, Virginia]
October 12th 1864

Dear Bro. Sam,

Your letter has remained unanswered a long time but I have had to write to Joe so often on business that I hardly know what to write you that I had not already told Joe. You know, Sam, I can spin a yarn on paper though you may think me a proficient in that business when at home. Everything here at Petersburg remains about the same as usual—the same amount of skirmishing and artillery firing, and of course we see our share although we have only had one man wounded lately.

We have been overhauling Fort Davis lately—building magazines, barbettes for guns, and all that sort of thing for the past two weeks until I think we have about as fine a fort as there is on the line. Ed has been chief cook on the part of our Battery in the work. Tomorrow I go down the line to Fort Rice to “sort of” engineer the work on that fort—the work having become a perfect man-trap. It will take me several days probably to straighten it out.

My Battery has now 309 men, nearly 300 present for duty. I shall send 46 to “B” 1st Rhode Island tomorrow and 20 or more to Capt. [Christian] Woerner Battery C of our regiment. For other purposes in the Brigade I shall dispose of about fifty more. This will reduce the number considerably. Meantime, I am to have my other section of guns that I turned in last spring making me a 6 gun battery again. Among the men who came last night was [William] Pettigrew of Milburn with your note. You would have laughed had you been here when I first saw him. He came to my tent in the eve. I was reading the paper & did not hear him approach, The first thing I knew, he broke out with, “Good evening, Sir.” I never moved a muscle. He stood a moment & then went out to the sentry in front of my tent & told him he wanted to see me. The sentry brought the request and I sent a rather sharp reply that he must come to the tent as he ought. So the sentry instructs him & rather to my astonishment when I ordered him to come in, Pettigrew came into the tent. He made all sorts of apologies which I received very graciously, but didn’t tell him how much I was taken in. You can’t tell, Sam, the patience it requires for these new men. I draw the lines pretty close and as Ed says, “Give them rats” about all the while.

The health of both Ed and I is very good indeed. I send in tonight’s mail my certificate of membership in the 3rd [Army] Corps Union. It is directed to Joe. Will you tell him that I wish it framed nicely. I want my name, no. of badge, & day of certificate placed on the certificate by someone who can do it perfectly. The No. is 9. The date October 8th, 1864. And the name will be in full, Capt. A. Judson Clark. You probably know someone who can do it as it ought to be done for it is something I think a great deal of.

Give love to Sarah and all the folks and accept very much for self. Affectionately your brother, — A. Judson Clark



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