5 March 1864

William J. Bancroft directed this letter to his sisters in Shortsville, Ontario county, New York. He wrote the letter from Camp Stoneman near Washington D. C.

Camp Stoneman, Maryland
Saturday, March 5, 1864

Dear Sisters,

I take my pen in hand to let you know of my health and whereabouts. The regiment is encamped on an island in the Potomac [river] four miles below Washington. Two regiments of cavalry have left the island for Harper’s Ferry yesterday and today, and everything indicates the opening of a vigorous spring campaign at an early day. But you know as much about the movements of the army as I and so I will tell you of the journey hither.

We stayed Tuesday night in Canandaigua. I had to guard the door of one of the cars from 12 till one o’clock in the morning. I got liberty to go out around town. I got some oysters and my hair cut at Johnson’s Barber Shop on the left side of Main Street — the first one you come to. That is where I got the bills which I enclose for postage and if it is not good, you know where I got it. Please buy a whole sheet and roll it snug in a newspaper and pay letter postage on it and it will find me. Or perhaps a safer way would be to put them in an envelope as papers for persons in the army are very apt to miscarry, there being no post office here.

But about the ride. We left Canandaigua at about 11 and had quite a pleasant ride considering that we were not allowed to leave the cars. At about 5 o’clock, we found Elmira and waited for the rest of the regiment to come up. They got in at about one o’clock at night and so I did pretty much as I pleased. In the morning we started and traveled all day and all the next night and at 10 o’clock Friday morning, we were in Baltimore. Took dinner at the rooms of the Union Relief Association, lay around until they got cars enough to take us away which they did about 3 o’clock P. M. and at 11 o’clock the regiment was in Washington. We got supper at the Soldier Retreat and slept at the home. We had breakfast and dinner at the same place.

Saturday last we left the city for this place. We started about 4 or 5, got here at 7 o’clock, and finding tents were waiting for us, we set to work getting them up. Sunday we were kept at work putting up and taking down our tents until finally (excuse blunders as it is getting dark) we were ordered to constitute the left of the First Battalion and here we are.

It stormed Tuesday and Wednesday so that we had an inch of snow. The ground is frozen almost every morning. Today it rains again. I have been on drill two or three times and on guard once since I have been here. I got my warrant today. Willie Booth is well as usual and in pretty good spirits. We mustered for pay Thursday and we expect to be paid next week.

Have just come in from roll call at 8 o’clock. Have you heard from Albert? Is he well? If so, where is he? I do not tent with Billy as it is not allowed. The company is divided into squads of four tents. Each tent is capable of holding four men — a sergeant, a corporal, and two privates in the first and four privates in each of the others.

But it is almost time for the bugle to sound lights out and I must draw my epistle to a close. Billy tents with Sergt. Dox and I with Sergt. Parmer. — Willie

Father, will you please to make a pair of boots and send them to me? I want 8½ and good height in the legand instep, two light soles through the shank, and a tap full of nails with heel plates. Please have the lining over the counter of leather that will wear as well as the upper fronts. I would like fine grain kipps. Send by express to William J. Bancroft, Co. L, 24th N. Y. S. Cavalry, Washington D. C., Care of Capt. F. L. Brown

White thread, shaving kit, small mirror, round tin cover.

Direct to William J. Bancroft, Co. L, 24th Regt. N. Y S. Cav., Washington D. C.