The following letter was sent by Dorson Speary to his uncle Barnard Sutliff in Luzerne County during Dorsonís service in the Civil War. An included note is addressed to C.B. (Chester Barnard) Sutliff- Dorsonís cousin & a son of Barnard. The letters also mention Darius (another son of Barnard). I do not know how the Sutliff family is connected to the Speary family. I can only assume it is through Dorsonís mother (Rachel Jane Benscoter), as there appears to be no connection via the Speary surname. The letters have been copied just as they were written. No punctuation or spelling has been corrected. I have left blanks for words I cannot make out due to cramped writing at the edges of the pages. I have written in parentheses what they APPEAR to be.

In the letter, Dorson mentions James.  This is his brother, James Speary, who would die 6 months later on May 03, 1863 on the battlefield of Chancellorsville, Va.


Sept the 18th 1862
Camp Whiple near Washington

Dear Uncle it is with pleasure I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am pretty well at present James and myself and a moast of the rest of the boys from sulivan moved our selves down in _______ [looks like "aug" as in the abbreviation for August] we have been here four weeks next Monday or four weeks since we left home we are in Robinsons brigade birneys division 141st regt we have had some pretty hard times a ready we have been on the march nearly ever day and every sonday but one we havent drawed more than half days rations since we have been here till now we draw full rations we get pork beef bread beans coffee sugar rice salt vinnagar we can see the ____ [looks like "old"] capital from here. We are under marching orders now. they won't let us know where we are going when we do go we was out on pickets night before last and captured one rebel prisoner so I have seen one rebel a ready I tell you he was a hard looking customer how he did rip and swaer about the yankies. they are pretty good news here on our side. I don't know how it is out in the country for the half of the news we hear is not true. the opinion of the people here is that the war is not going to last long ______ [looks like "sure"] hope it won't. I havent told you how I like soaldiering yet I like it first rate in good weather but it is pretty hard ______ ______ [2nd word looks like "feet"] in wet weather for when it rains the mud is like greece we have to lay out in the big tent yet for we havent drawed all of our tents yet. I expect Darius [Note: a son of Barnard Sutliff] is going to the army to but if he hasn't tell him to write I have wrote several leters home but hant received but one leter our folks was all well then only father and he had a lame back then but I hope it is well now I must bring my leter to a close write me soon as you receive this oar I will think you are dead tell the girls to write for I havent time to write them now excuse my poor writing for we have to write the best way we can we havent any stands or tables here to write on so good bye for this time
Dorson M Speary to Barnard Sutliff esq

direct to D.M. Speary
Care of Capt J. H. Wright
Co. K 141st rgt PV
Washington D.C.

We have enlisted for three years so as to be here to settle the war between the rebels and usssssss

A few words to C.B. Sutliff [Note: Chester Barnard - son of Barnard]

Dear cousin after my respects to you and the rest of the family I would try to write a few lines to you James and me is both in the army and are well satisfied if you was here you would see more in one minute than I can write in a week if you would see unkle sams boys out on dress parade you would say it was the prettiest sight you ever seen or else I am mistaken for they all are dressed a like and look as near a like as a flock of pigeons but I must stop talking about pigeons and say something about the girls I havent seen a nice girl since I came here only colored ones if I could see a company of our girls if it wasn't more than ______ [could be "one"] I would think it was the prettiest sight that I ever seen I will come and pay you a visit after I get this muss settled down here. I think I can settle it again I am _____ [ Looks like the number "45" or possibly "25"] years _____ so no more at present but remain your _____ [Last 2 blanks look like "aoler" - possibly meaning "older". Would have to be a private joke as Dorson was only 18 years old at the time] afectionate cousin.

D.M. Speary


Historian's Notes By Bob Sweeney - coordinator of the Sullivan County, Pennsylvania GenWeb project.

On September 16, 1862, the Union Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia clashed at Sharpsburg, Maryland in what has come down in history as the Battle of Antietam. This battle was the bloodiest day in American military history, and signaled that the war between the states would be a long, costly, and bloody conflict. Although the northern forces prevailed, driving the Confederate troops from the field of battle, the Union falied to follow up on the the costly victory and let Robert E. Lee's forces slip away to the South and fight again. The following year, 1863, would see further costly and bloody encounters at Fredericksburg and then at the climactic encounter at Gettysburg in July that would spell the last effort by Lee to invade the North. When Dorosn Speary wrote the following letter, just two days after Antietam, he was clearly unaware of the titanic struggle just a few dozen miles away and both he and his colleagues were still under the impression that the war might be over soon. In this expectation, they would be disillusioned.

Bob Sweeney
December 2002