This letter was written by James A. Cronk (1824-1892) who enlisted at the age of 34 on 23 August 1862 at Auburn to serve three years in Co. F, 138th New York Infantry (renamed the 9th New York Heavy Artillery I December 1861). He was mustered out on 6 July 1865.
James was the son of Jasper Cronk (1792-1889) and Roxy Turner (1803-1879) of Auburn, Cayuga county, New York. James was married to Caroline Milliman (1826-1901) and had two small children—Mary and Henry—when he enlisted. In the 1860 US Census, James was enumerated in Auburn where he worked as a “cartman.”
November 11, 1862
Dear Sister Ellen.
I now take my pen in hand to let you know that I am very sick this morning so that I can’t hardly write this letter. They is 2 men run away from Co. F—the company that I belong to—and they is more will go as soon as they get their pay. They can’t live here. They don’t get enough to eat to keep them alive so I don’t blame them for running away.
The sun shines very bright and warm here today and the ground is dry. Our camp is on the land between the District of Columbia and Maryland. I have just got my dinner and eat it and I feel a little better so that I can write better. It does seem to me that I can’t stand it much longer. I don’t get enough to eat to keep me alive. I can’t work half the time. You would think I was drunk if you could see me walk.
Caroline sent me a bed tick and I filled it with corn husk and that helps me some. It keeps me from lying on the ground.
There was one man that enlisted under Captain [Charles] Burgess in Auburn and he wasn’t mustered in right so today he went down to Washington and seen the War Department and they told him the [he] was free and he is here on the ground now and it caused a great excitement to think he was clear. He is agoing home tomorrow in the cars. The man’s name is [Robert] Wiggins. He lives in Senate. The Captain is mad about it.
Ellen, I shall see you soon. I ain’t got no more news to write at present so goodbye all.
From your friend, — James Cronk
Write as soon as you get this letter and I will answer all the letters that you will send to me. My love to Egbert.