Letters Home from

Alexander Gray

Company E, 39th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Alexander Gray, son of George Alexander Gray and Mary Monteith, enlisted at Wilmington, Illinois, as a folunteer in October 1861, reenlisted in January 1864 at Hilton head, South Carolina. He served with Company E ("The Florence Rifles"), 39th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, until he was wounded at Deep Bottom Run, Virginia, on 16 August 1864 in the Petersburg Campaign. Although the regimental history states that he was mustered out December 6, 1865, Alexander Gray died at Beverly Military Hospital, Beverly, New Jersey, where he is buried [Charles M. Clark, M.D., The History of the Thirty-Ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Veteran Infantry (Yates Phalanx) in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (Chicago: Published under the auspices of the Veteran Association of the Regiment), 1889, p. 457.] His letters [in the possession of Susan Gray Detweiler, gr-gr-neice of Alexander Gray] home were carefully saved by his younger brother, John, and are transcribed here.

Suffolk, Dec 9th 1862

Dear Mother [Margaret Hamilton Gray, second wife of George Alexander Gray]

I received your letter of the sekond inst this morning and I was very glad to get it I did not receive your other letter you spoke abut our regiment coming home this winter we heard that we were a coming home but I guess that there is nothing of it I supose that it is prety cold at home now it is a geting prety cold here I noticed this morning as I was a coming in from picket that on the pond the boys were a scating so you may know how cold it is to day out all night on picket in the woods.

I am glad that you are all well and a doing well I am glad to hear that John is able to help father tell Magie that I would like to see her very much but I am afraid that Santa claus wont send me home for a while tell John to eat a piece of his turkey for me and I will eat a piece of corned beef for him tell father that I got that certificate and I am very much obliged to him for it I cant think of any more to say at present I would like some thing to read but I am afraid that you couldnt send it give my love to father and all the children

Alexander Gray

Camp Grant VA Apr 8th 1864

Dear Brother [John Monteith Gray]

I received yours and Bell's letter yesterday and I was glad to [illegible] from you all I am glad to hear that you have got to planting we have had very poor weather here untill within the last few days it is a getting pleasant though now I am glad to hear that the cold is a getting along so well and that you have got a better span from Daniels Bill Stanton [William Stanton of Company F enlisted from Rockville, Feb. 24, 1864. He was detailed as Commissary of Subsistence.] says he would like to be there to warm the Lodge he has wrote one or two pieces for the paper in the Lodge I expect they will create a sensation I have been bothered with the tooth ache the last day or two it is better though to day Jim Bogart makes a first rate soldier I had a letter from Bell Warner[?] she says the report is that Frank[?] Hewit[?] is dead do you know wheather it is so or not. You said that you plowed an acre and a half the day you wrote. I guess that pack must have been mud then I cant think of any more to write give my love to all and write again and tell the rest to do the same from your [illegible] brother

Alexander Gray

Bermuda Hundreds July 18th/64

Dear Cousin [probably one of the children of Walter and Catherine Monteith]

I received your welcome letter some time ago but have not answered it on account of now having any thing to write but I will do the best I can I was pleased to learn that you were all well I am quite well with the exception of a lame ankle I was on Picket to day and strained it Jim Bogart and Thomas Winnie [Bogart appears on the roster of Company E as James Vandebogart. Winnie is not on the published roster of this company.] are well I hope that you had a good time on the Fourth we were all on Picket that day the rebles are quite friendly here our Picket lines and theirs is not more than five or six rods apart in some places they trade Papers and Tobaco with us there are a good many of them deserting they all say that they are tired of the War and say that if the settlement of it was left to them that it would not last long I wrote a letter to Lewis [Monteith] some time ago but I have not received an answer from it yet perhaps I did not give it the right directions it is raining now and we need it very bad there is no news to write of any consequence only that we were paid off the day before yesterday you must excuse me for so short a letter I will try and do better next time give my best respects to Mary and Aunt Catherine and Robert and tell him to write Kiss Willie for me and write often Good by from your Afectionate Cousin [Mary and Lewis Monteith are in 1850 census with Caterine and Walter. Robert could be David R. Willie? There were Bogarts in Delaware Co., NY.]

Alex Gray

Many thanks to Susan Gray Detweiler for submitting this information.

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