28th Infantry fought in many important battles, including James
Island, 2nd Bull Run, Gettysburg, Antietam, South Mountain,
Chancellorsville, Rapidan and Culpepper.
JAMES FLYNN enlisted as a Private in the Civil War on October 15, 1861. He was mustered into H Co. of the MA 28th Infantry and was discharged for wounds on May 23, 1863.
On February 24, 1862, he writes to his cousin from Hilton Head, SC, on very nice patriotic McClellan stationary (Written below that image of McClellan: “Stand by me, and I’ll stand by you.”) 4 pp, 5” x 8”.
“I have at last arrived in Dixie, the very hot bed of Rebellion in the ‘Palmetto State’ and you would be delighted with the climate. It is so warm and nice, green grass and trees and birds singing made quite a contrast with the cold and frosty weather of the north…We left old Castle Williams on Friday the 14th inst. And went on board the Steamship Ericsson and there we were packed away in earnest. It was not the old Sound Steamer ‘Connecticut’ this time…Well I cannot describe my feelings of that night. It was like the horrors. The place that we had to sleep and live in was about the size of a trunk, and in that we had to put our knapsack, gun, and all our equipment, two men in each of them and I tell you there was not much room left. So we had either to go upon deck or go to bed for the only place we had to stand down below was a foot and a half in with all along the bunks. So that if anything happened we could never get out and the smell was enough to kill one, there being no air. I hated to go to bed at night and was glad when day came. Well, the vessel lay in New York that night and part of the next day, she then started but stopped at Staten Island. The fog being so thick she could not go so she lay there the next night, then the next day off we went. We did not get out of sight of land all that day. The next day we were on the Atlantic going it over the road ‘two forty.’
“We could see nothing but sky and water. When we got off the coast of Virginia, we were in the gulf stream and the water was lukewarm and there was lots of porpoise hopping in the water most of the way. On Monday the ship began to roll and pitch, and we began to heave our rations. I tell you, such a sight I never saw, and I was never so sick in my life…I was sick all the passage and never want to be on sea again. Every ship we saw, we used to say it was Rebel gunboat, come to take us all prisoners, as we had no means of defense. So we sailed along without any trouble and Friday the 21st we arrived in Port Royal bay, and the next day we went ashore, and went to work pitching tents for the night. But we did not do much work, but went roaming all about the place to see what we could find…There is not one stone large or small on the place, beach or other place, and it is all fine sand like flour and this paper on which I write covered with it as you may see. The wind blows so hard that it blows through the tent like ashes.
“On Sunday morning, we went in swimming in the salt water in the month of February and it is so hote here now in the day time as it is in Mass. in June. There is lots of alligators and snakes here and wild hogs. There is 10 or 11 Regiments here from every state, Cavalry, Artillery and Infantry. They had a great fight here when they took it, and the place is full of Balls and Shells and Bullets. There is lots of niggers here men, women and children.
[Written sideways on back page]
“We expect to be in a fight before long and we shall have to drill 8 hours a day and go on picket and guard often enough so that we won’t have much time to ourselves. I cannot write half so much as I would if I did not blow so hard. One letter won’t hold it all. Johnny McDermott came with us. I will write again soon.
[Written sideways on the front page]
“I send you a bit of Palmetto leaf inside.]
On November 18, Flynn writes a second letter to his cousin, from Queen Street Hospital in Alexandria, VA, 2 pp, 5” x 8”.
“I received your very welcome letter which gave me great pleasure to hear from you and that all hands were well. I am in good health myself at present, if I could only get enough to eat. I am very sorry that I cannot be here to enjoy Thanksgiving with you, but the condition of my wound will not allow me but I think I will be with you at Christmas as the Doctor told me he would get me a furlough as soon as my wound was fit to go. He said it wouldn’t do to let a man off with such a looking arm as mine was. You must excuse me if I don’t write you a very long letter this time as I am shut up here and can’t find much of any consequence to write…So give my love to all the folks, and tell them that they may expect to see my ghost around there about Christmas.
“From your affectionate cousin
“Formally of Co. H 28th Regt., Mass. Vols.
“But now of
“Queen Street Hospital
Folds and toning. Very readable. First letter isn’t signed but the second is. As mentioned, both are to his cousin.
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