OVERVIEW OF PETER L. DUMONT CIVIL WAR LETTERS
Dates of letters: January 17, 1862 - April 29, 1964
Approximately 100 letters from our great-great-great grandfather Peter L. Dumont to his wife Clarinda sent from encampments during service in the Army of the Potomac.
Peter fought in the Battle of Fredericksburgh, was wounded and captured at the Battle of Chancellorsville, lived through "Mud March" and confinement at Libby Prison, and was listed as "missing in action" at the Battle of the Wilderness.
Letters are difficult to count without transcribing, because many pages are separated and undated. Only a few of them have been transcribed.
The last letter is dated six days from Peter's disappearance/death in the Battle of the Wilderness.
Letters indicate mixed feelings about pride and sense of duty in serving country versus intense fear and loneliness. Descriptions of camp life, battle, and Libby Prison. Numerous original sketches and short poems, much romantic prose, and references to home life in or around Utica NY.
An additional 20 letters were from his time at home or were from family members attempting to determine his status and obtain pension payments following his disappearance.
Peter and Clarinda's two children, Ida and William, are frequently mentioned in the letters and addressed as his "little lambs". Letters were passed down by Ida through maternal side of the family to our grandmother, Ida Reed Bradley. One letter in the group indicates that a family member may have considered selling these letters to a collector during the Great Depression.
Facts based on research and highlights from letters:
146th Regiment, Company A of the NY Volunteers serving in the Army of the Potomac
May also be referred to as Halleck Infantry, Fifth Oneida, and Garrard's Tigers
1861: Utica City Directory lists Peter L. Dumont as a "laborer" at 21 Vorick St.
Summer: Letters during summer to his wife who was visiting out of town discussed home life, family financial problems, and the draft
8/22: Enlisted at Utica, age 27, Occupation "moulder", born Seward NY
10/10: Mustered in at Utica
10/12 - 11/05: Arlington Heights, action "in the defense of Washington"
11/06 - 11/21: Camp at Falmouth
12/11 - 12/12: Battle of Fredericksburgh
12/17/62 - 4/27/63: Falmouth. Letters describe battlefield, picket duty, camp living conditions, talking with "rebel prisoners", treatment of deceased soldiers, behavior of officers and General Warren, personall illness, money. Mentions Fletcher Dimbly for the first time; notes that he and Fletch are too busy to get into the barber business as planned. Fletch cut Peter's hair and he saw gray hairs for the first time. See subsequent references to Fletch.
5/1 - 5/3: Wounded and captured at Battle of Chancellorsville
5/4 - 5/7: March to and confinement at Libby Prison in Richmond. Descriptions of battle, men killed in mudslide during march (later known as the "Mud March"), holding hands with Fletch to keep from fallings, conditions and food at Libby
Prison. Sketch made while in Libby Prison.
5/? - 5/17: Paroled by Confederates, shipped to parole Camp at Annapolis with 1200 men in ocean steamer S.R. Spaulding
5/22 - 9/?: Convalescent Camp at Ft. Barnard, Alexandria. Missed action of his regiment at Gettysburgh
10/9 - 10/22: Action near Warrenton
11/7: Battle of Rappahanock Station
12/13/63 - 5/64: Warrenton (haven't read letters yet)
4/29: Last letter written by Peter
5/1: Per Brainard's Regimental History, Lt. Froeligh of Co. H. asked Fletcher Dimbly to cut the Lieutenant's hair short so the surgeon would be able to get to the wound that he thought he was going to get in battle. Lt. Froeligh was killed a few days later in the Battle of the Wilderness by a gunshot wound to the forehead.
5/5: Peter missing in action at the Battle of the Wilderness. This is a fascinating battle in a heavily wooded area filled with intense smoke, in which many Union soldiers were killed by friendly fire, were killed in hand to hand combat, or deserted.
June to September: listed as "prisoner" in muster role
7/3: Letter to Clarinda signed "Clara Barton" (probably by a representative) confirming Peter's death
7/16: Company a. musters out. Peter's tent-mate Joseph Corragan (who he wrote about in the letters) is one of only 12 privates who lives to muster out, due to the many battles that this company participated in.
Letter indicating a family member (daugher Ida?) attempted to sell the letters