About this Letter
The letter from Levi D. Green to his father, written on November 19, 1862, provides a glimpse into the life of a soldier in the Civil War. Levi writes from Camp Thorp in Suffolk, VA, where he and his regiment are stationed. Despite being in good health, Levi complains of a sore foot, which may have been a result of the demanding physical requirements of the infantry.
Levi expresses his wish to be involved in the fighting, hoping that the Confederate forces will be defeated. He also asks his father to take care of his livestock and send him a pair of boots and a box of supplies. He requests that the box contain dried fruit, butter cake, and honey, and asks his father to write to him often.
The researcher’s note provides further context to Levi’s situation. The First New York Dragoons, which Levi was a part of, served in two different branches of military service, first as infantry and later as cavalry. The transition from infantry to cavalry was not always easy, as both branches of service had their own unique challenges.
Levi’s letter gives us a personal perspective on what life was like for a soldier in the Civil War. Despite the difficulties and hardships he faced, he remains determined to do his part in the fight. His request for supplies and his concern for his livestock show his longing for home, and his desire to make his life as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.
FROM LEVI D. GREEN TO DEAR FATHER – NOVEMBER 19, 1862
Suffolk, Camp Thorp. Dear father I am well an in good health all but in foot that is so sore that I cant but just walk. (see Resercher’s note below) Marvin is well he has gone to fort nansemond. our regt was ordered out last night to march but they did not go. I can hear the canon roar today at to Black watter like hell. I hope the Rebs will get whipped to hell. If I was their I would run them to hell if I could. I think I could do my part. Pa, I want you to feed my calvs and lamb all they can eat. I want you to get me a pair of boots under 8 and send them to me. And a box of stuff. I want you to do it. I want you to get me a pair of gloves and send I want you to send it as soon as you can. Write to me when you send he box so that I can tell when the box will get here and some dried fruit some butter cake honey put it in a box and seal it up so it cant run out. Let it be the first work that you do. I want you to write often. I have not heard from you in a 1 shit on it. When you get write soon. L. D. Green
RESEARCHER’S NOTE: In Bowen’s Regimental History, he speaks of this moment. Taken from his text: “The history of the First New York Dragoons is unique. In one respect, as an unbroken organization, it has served in two distinct branches of military service, one year in infantry and two in the cavalry. During the first year, we were known as the One Hundred and Thirtieth New York Volunteer Infantry and had abundant experience as ‘doughboys’ in fighting on foot and in long and exhausting marches with blistered feet” and aching joints. As cavaliers, we also had our turn of pitying the poor boys who still had to ” hoof it.”We also learned that, though riding our prancing steeds, the mounted service was not all fun, especially under such vigorous leaders as Sheridan.” View text in original source
The term “doughboys” was a nickname used to refer to American soldiers. The origin of the term is uncertain, but it may have originated from the appearance of the uniform, which was said to resemble uncooked dough, or from “doughboy,” a slang term for a young man who was inexperienced or naive. Some held that the term related to the physical shape of the men before they received their physical military training. The term was most widely used to refer to American soldiers during World War I and has since become a symbol of American military service and sacrifice.