James Hitchcock wrote a letter home from the battlefield a few short months before the 44th NY mustered out. It is a letter from a literate man to his aunt and uncle. The fatigue and battle weariness is evident. I have always chosen to believe that the “English Lady” is the woman James married a few years later in 1869, my great-grandmother Caroline Batten. Here is that letter:
1st. Div. 5th Corps A of P (For Army of the Potomac – sg)
Hancock Station VA Sept. 17th/1864
My Dear Aunt,
Your welcome letter was gladly received on the 15th inst. I was glad to receive an answer promptly and I was agreeably surprised to find your letter contained a “Picture of an English Lady” of my acquaintance. I recognize her and am really glad to see her looking so well. Why Aunt it seems to me that she is growing younger every year. It is an excellent likeness. I shall be happy to have an introduction. It will be very agreeable to me at least, and I hope it may be the same to her; please speak a good word for me.
I am very sorry to learn that Mary Ann has been sick and as she promised to write me and did not I presume that is the reason she did not. Give my love to her, and tell her I hope to see her soon and then she will have to give an account of her delay in writing me.
We have been moving around considerable lately. Grant is continually maneuvering and although we have not a very large tract of land to travel upon still the Army does a great deal of walking.
Dear Aunt as the time to return home draws nigh the members of this Reg’t. begin to indulge in very bright anticipation; not least among these is your Nephew James. I promise myself a grand good time and after being from home 3 years all the time engaged in active Campaigning, do you not think that I am entitled to a little enjoyment?
Dear Uncle you too have my warmest thanks for the kind and cheering words you have expressed in my behalf. I hope I may meet you all soon and find you enjoying all the blessings of this world and resting in the calm assurance of joys to come. The condition of our Country seems brightening. Mobile and Atlanta are just now glorious words; not only do they announce the greatest Military and Naval successes of the time but they are the Handwriting on the Wall announcing in most emphatic tones the doom the very death throes of the Chicago nominees.
McLellan and Pendelton stock is not worth one cent on the dollar; in the Army it is in very truth a “dead letter.” The ides of November next will usher in their funeral on the same day that Fremont and Cochrane are buried. Abraham Lincoln and Andy Johnson will guide the ship of state and with the volunteers now coming to him Grant and Sherman will establish to our distracted country peace founded on a sound basis.
With much love I remain in haste your Nephew James.