Guide to the Richard Arthur Letters, RG 507

Listed by: Dwayne Cox
Date: 1-27-00

Date Span: 1863-1870

Biographical Sketch: Arthur served in Company A of the 21st New York Cavalry during the Civil War. Company A was stationed in the District of Columbia (November and December, 1863); at Hallstown, West Virginia (January and February, 1864); at Hagerstown, Maryland (July and August, 1864); at Camp Russell near Winchester, Virginia (November and December, 1864); and at Falls Church, Virginia (March and April, 1865). The 21st was engaged at various points in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland between May and August, 1864.

Scope / Content: Correspondence from Arthur regarding his military service during the Civil War and in the Dakota Territory following the war.


 August 6 - He is drilling daily and expects to be mustered in soon.

August 30 -

September 7 - Camp Sprague, Staten Island. He has drawn an overcoat and rubber blanket. Has just come off guard duty.

September 25 - Camp Sprague. A riot in camp has resulted in four deaths from gunshots and throwing of rocks. He is considering suicide because of news from home of a girl friend getting married.

October 30 - Camp Stoneman. He is in the hospital and has been very sick.

November 1 - Camp Stoneman Hospital. Has been in the hospital for a month with typhoid fever.

November 24 - Camp Stoneman. He is now out of the hospital. His unit has received saddles, revolvers, carbines and bridles; but no horses.

December 8 - Camp Stoneman. He has a good horse, but his uniform is shoddy and full of holes. Any clothes not actually being worn are usually stolen.

December 21 - Camp Stoneman. Was on a regimental search for several thousand army horses that had gotten loose along the Potomac. He ignored orders to encamp for the night, found seven horses, but got lost and didn't get back to camp until reveille next morning.


January 1 - Camp Stoneman. The mud is six inches deep, but the camp was lighted and celebrated all New Year's eve.

March 3 - Near Harper's Ferry. The troops are living in "dog tents" about four feet high.

April 27 - Martinsburg, Va. His unit is in Seigel's Division and expecting to fight soon. He celebrated too much at a soldiers wedding and was put in the guardhouse.

August 17 - Pleasant Valley, Md. Describes some fights and skirmishes in north Virginia and Maryland. All officers in his unit have been killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The unit had lost most its horses also.


February 8 - Military Prison No. 3, Wheeling, WV. He expects to be "reprieved out" of prison before long. No details of why he is in prison.

March 7 - Same Prison. There are about 120 men there at present. No release date has been set.

May 6 - Falls Church, Va. His unit has been in various locations for several weeks in northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.

May 11 - Falls Church, Va. He has been paid after long delays, and hopes to be home in two months.

June 11 - Cloud's Mills, Va. Was in the Army's Grand Review. Rumors are his unit is going to Louisville, Ky. There is a bounty controversy over recent one-year recruits getting a bigger bonus, while being released earlier than soldiers like him who had enlisted for three years.


April 1 - Dakota Territory. Expects to begin a three-month scouting expedition covering some 1400 miles. He is apparently still serving on his three-year enlistment.


January 9 -

May 1 -

No Date

4 Items

NOTE: No other letters in this collection have a military or Civil War relevance. A granddaughter of Richard Arthur mentions that she was told that he had run away three times at the age of 15 to join the army. Each time his father brought him home. When he was 16 he again ran away and this time the army signed him up and sent him to Staten Island. After the war, he married a hometown girl and claimed a land grant for Union Veterans in Iowa.

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