Letters of Rensselaer William Foote; the 1860s

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"The close vicinity of the mines brings about the neighborhood a great many vagabonds, who sell Liquor to the soldiers, and give me much trouble," Letter to Catherine Foote from her Brother, Rensselaer, Stationed at Fort Yuma Cal February 4, 1860

My Dear Sister: I Sometime Since received a long and interesting letter from You, wherein you state that You had not heard from me though I wrote You from San Francisco. I I expect You have received that letter before this time.

I arrived at this Port from Los Angelos about the 14th of December last after a tedious journey by stage of 280 miles riding night and day. I was awful tired of stage riding and the fare on the Road [is] very bad, but this 280 miles on Road to St Louis is nothing to going through all the way to St. Louis. Some 2,700 miles, through a desert Country. I was glad to get here where I found a welcome from my friends; my own Company is here and two others making a handsome command. At present I am the Commanding officer, and may possibly be so for Some considerable time. This Fort is on a hill within a few hundred Yards of the River and overlooks the [border des?] late Country for a long distance. the hill is Solid Rock Some 50 or 60 feet high. The Colorado River is a large stream with the water of the color of cream, the current very swift, and when high, running at the rate of some 3 1/2 or 4 miles an hour. Yet it is navigable for Small Steamers, and two are now lying within Sight across the River. What is called the Reserve (land belonging to the Government and Port) extends fro one mile on this Side of the River, but only a short distance on the other side of the River. The Colorado River Empties into the Gulf of California. This Post is almost opposite to the mouth of the Gila (pronounced Heelah) So You can see by a large map where it is. It is almost on the jumping off place in regard to civilization, &c. Still the port is in San Diego County, Cal. though across the River it is now Arizona, and only a short time since was Mexico. The Mines they talk So much about are only about 15 miles off, but I have not Yet been there, though perhaps I shall some day ride up there. They don't yield wonderfully I believe, principally on account, perhaps, of a scarcity of water. The close vicinity of the mines brings about the neighborhood a great many vagabonds, who sell Liquor to the soldiers, and give me much trouble. I sent an officer and burnt up one of these squatter gentleman's shanties the other day, and a few nights since had some 200 gallons of their vile Liquor on this side of the River ^spilled^. You See they have no rights on the Reserve, though they can go a few Yards off of it, and do what they please. The Yuma Indians are in this neighborhood. They are a mild, inoffensive looking race, not to my notions very handsome, but of good form[s].

This Port itself is beautiful, but the Country barren and desolate. The Quarters are fine and abundant, but that is about all. Just now the weather is what perhaps You would call not only delightful, but magnificent, particularly to-night as it is almost as light as day, and as mild as — as — it can be, like what You read about Italy - - -

I have a wood fire, and do every day, more or less, but don't need it, as I have my doors open most of the time. the weather is something like what You have in July. I can't say that I like the climate, it seems too dry, and what I shall do next Summer, the deuce only Knows: they tell awful stories about the heat: they say people go about in their shirt sleeves, and sleep or try to, on the tops of the houses, and the Doctor says some times in a hot draft of air, a Candle (Sperm) will wilt right down! - - - the thermometer Sometimes 120 or more in the shade!! Wheugh! — it fairly makes my flesh crawl to think of it. Well well people have lived through it, and Some seem to like it. At any rate, we are not going to stay here forever, and Some one else will have to relieve us soon, in a Year or a little more. If I should live through it as I expect to do, and become perfectly disgusted I can retire to some cheap and quiet place, and there end my days - - - The more I see of the world the more mysterious life seems to me. All things seem to have a different aspect to me as I grow older, and see how the world [wags?] on but I have not space now to enlarge on this subject and shall scarcely have room to say what I want to in this letter. The Paymaster Maj Wood, has been here and paid the troops and we have also just had a large Court Martial. When I was at San Francisco I went over to see my friend Maj Woods, who lives at a place called Oakland, opposite San Francisco. Oakland is a beautiful place within sight of San Francisco, and a perfect Grove of old spreading oaks. There is quite a village. I made an Investment over there, buying some 4 acres for one thousand dollars, and have already pad $475 on it. I am trying to make a Garden here and have already got some seed sown — only think of it whilst You are freezing with the cold - - - I have been as busy as I could be Since my arrival here making out, am examining papers, and writing letters, and have scarcely had time to take any exercise, though the Doctor and I Sometimes take a short ride on horseback, or rather mule back. Indeed, this want of exercise, and the annoyance of business deranged my system a short time since, and I was very Sick for Some Ten Days. I had Some Fever, and had to take an Emetic, and became very weak and nervous and one night I was crazy as a Bed bug. I had a visit to day from Some Indians who had come from a long distance - - - they were on a visit to the Coast and said they thought they would call and See the Commanding officer, - - - of course I had to give them a little Flour Sugar and Meat; and Coffee. I have many letters to write and must soon close. I want to write to my friend Tyler. The date of Your last Letter which I received was December the 5th — When You write please acknowledge the date and receipt of this, as it is a good [deal?] for me now to write when I have so much to to do.

Pray remember me to all. My brothers and Sisters and Mrs. Gould, and tell Mr Marvine I want to write to him soon, and Ebenezer also or rather Mrs. Maxwell, who might answer my letter. I think Magg[r]y never wrote as I have received no letter from her.

Your Affec; Brother RenSsWFoote Capt USInf

Miss Catherine B. Foote; Delhi Del Co. New York

Letter from Albert Sidney Johnston, Fort Yuma 4 June 1860 to Rensselaer William Foote, "U.S.A., Present"

Capt Foote
Dear Sir We are to have an excursion with the Steamer on Monday and if convenient would like the pleasure of you Company. The Steamer will land on the Post Side of the River about 1 Oclock P.M. to take on board those who are agoing
Your Obt Servt Gen A Johnston

"I had a slight touch of delirium, and saw strange sights, or rather thought I did. It is solemn to think of, but not frightful, as I laughed then and have since at it." Long Letter from R.W. Foote, "Fort Yuma California, to his Sister, Kate, Delhi, New York, Monday Night. Nov. 19, 1860"

My dear Sister: Your letter, dated August 24th, 1860, was only received by me a short time since; well, perhaps, several weeks. for a long time I have been intending to write to You, but I have always put it off with the pleasant reflection that - - - "Well now, to morrow, I will write to Catherine," and then when to-morrow comes it is put off until next day, when, I congratulate myself that I will most surely write, but I feel lazy, stupid, or Something another, and so it goes: this less I have to do the less I want to do. However, when several long letters have accumulated I get frightened, and sit down and answer Some of them: still I have few regular correspondents now. From my friend Tyler I have not heard nor written, but I have sometimes thought strongly of writing soon, and he may, possibly, have done the same thing, as in former Years we would sometimes be quite regular and then long periods of silence. I acknowledge all this with humiliation, but so it is. I like to receive letters wonderfully, and Your last one was quite long and interesting. When I last wrote I don't remember, but it must have been as long ago as July and more, as some things have transpired since then which I am sure I have not told you.

We have, at last got through with the hot weather, and thankful I am. for it was almost too much for me. It reduced me down very low, and I lost all the energy I had, and could just crawl about, fit for nothing. There is something about the climate which don't agree with northern constitutions, and Yet some people seem to like the winters which are cool, and much like your October weather. but I notice every one gets away who can do so. I am really afraid I could not stand another summer...with not a particle of rain! Up to last Saturday it had not rained I think or about a year or more than a tea Kettle full in the whole neighborhood...about 2 o'clock when it was the hottest between 2 and 3 - - - then the thermometer would stand (Fahrenheits') at about 115!!...Some days I would when it got so hot lie down in a bathing tub of water to cool myself, but I found it too weakening and the Doctor advised me to be careful. I noticed when undressed how quick I got out from a slight draft of air, which felt like hot air from an oven our old Kitchen Oven, when the Bread came out. The natives were in their glory, going about naked - - almost - - some Indians who could talk English a little, said the hot sand burnt their feet, and I believed them, for I would scarcely have gone willingly barefoot a hundred Yards, for anything. It was so hot the flies had to leave, but it don't appear to have killed them as they are about now, though some of our cool mornings the poor creatures look quite stiff and unhappy. Some mornings now the Thermometer has been down to 56, 53 and 51. - - quite comfortable indeed, and a fire at breakfast! I believe the heat has been greater here than indicated by the Thermometer, for I heard before I came here of its rising to 130! but that must have been exaggerated, though this is thought by some as about as hot a place as any that can be thought of, though I thought I felt the heat at Delhi sometimes quite as much as here, but it is steady hat here, no cool place. Well, the Summer is gone! no mistake about that, and I feel new life in me, though I feel gloomy and dull at times and cannot reconcile myself to all things as they happen, but I am more Serious and reflective and I hope becoming a better man, though not, I trust, bigotted, or frightened of the thought of death! - - - death, what is it, sure enough; there is an awful mystery about it, and I dont' believe in spooks, or hobgoblins, though of a nervous disposition might be frightened I suppose, at some apparitions, but not frightened into religion, for such religion is false and will avail not. I know Something of apparitions now, as last summer I had a slight touch of delirium, and saw strange sights, or rather thought I did. It is solemn to think of, but not frightful, as I laughed then and have since at it. My nervous system was much shocked by weakness having had the Piles and Rheumatism. I was writing to Capt Lovell a long letter, like this, - - - but I won't undertake to tell You all about it, now, as it would involve a good deal of explanation and require much writing - - - besides, some people would say it was delirium tremens, or something else, which it was not, but simply delirium which may result from many causes. Well, what I meant was that I am getting old, and feel old at times, and don't expect to live forever, like the great Frederick's soldiers, when he told them "What! You run away, You scélerâts (rascals) - - - do you expect to live forever!" A Private soldier when he has served his 5 Years, 10, 15 and 20 Years, becomes an old Soldier, and can go to the Asylum, but an officer, alas! never gets old in the eyes of the Government, or of Some people. When I grunt about Sometimes a Young officer will laugh, and say - - "Getting old, Eh!" - - Well, I am 45 and most citizens at that age hope and expect to be able to retire from arduous labors, and what is more arduous and wearing on the constitution than our life? - - - without a good constitution I would already be where many of of my brother soldiers are - - - in the Arms of death.

As I said before I hope I look more seriously on things than formerly. I read my Bible, but I confess I do not understand it; yet I have a religion of my own, and believe our conscience will tell us what is right and what is wrong; and I pray to the Almighty for pardon of my sins, for mercy, - - - to make me merciful, humble human and charitable. No, I am not ashamed of my religion, but I am often bewildered at the thought of death, Yet some people think light of it because of their faith, who will find that faith alone will not save them, as they will be judged by their deeds in the flesh, and a murderer may stand before a hypocrite. This is a good place to quote the substance of a remark of Horace Greeley, though I don't believe in his religion or his politics either. He is a moralising in his paper about one thing and another and he says: "As it is we can only say that in this, as in Some other things our special interests do not seem to have been solely considered, and that we had best avoid undertaking to say why things are so and not otherwise," - - - xxx "If the Horse was not to be bitten, why were not the Flies left unmade, or formed on vegetarian principles; then again, if the Flies were to live why was the Horse fitted with a Tail to plague the Flies while at their dinner"? That's it - - - thems my sentiments, as the Mexicans say to almost every thing. "Quien sabe?" — (pronounced keen-sab-bee) literally, "Who knows." but stop I will put in another extract to close with:
"Eat and be eaten" has been the rule from the beginning, and we may rest assured, that it is all right, however we may suspect a misadjustment when it comes our turn to be eaten." - - - Oh! dear how stiff I feel at times, from Rheumatism by sitting a long time in one position. This is a bad climate for it, notwithstanding it is so dry, and there is a good deal of it here. There has been considerable Sickness, Some deaths, and many changes here. The 1st Segt. of F Co. died very suddenly from exhaustion, and I buried an old soldier of my Company who was a mere skeleton. This was the first time I ever happened to read the funeral service myself and a beautiful service it is, the Episcopalian. We buried in July an Officer of our Regiment. Lieut Higgins — poor Higgins! who died of dissipation. Just before I arrived another officer, Lieut Clark, from New York State died also from the Same cause. Also another officer, the son of Genl Jesup (lately deceased) was obliged to resign the other day from the Same cause, and has gone to Washington: and now, our Colonel. Genl Clark has gone too: he died at San Francisco — it will be a great affliction to his wife who lives alone at Elizabeth, New Jersey, and was expecting him home next spring.

Company F. of our Regiment left here a short time ago for San Diego, on the coast — a delightful place, they say. I applied for it but didn't get it! - - - of course. who ever heard of our getting anything, but poverty and tolerable health. Company E. also of our Regiment went north last Summer up towards Washoe. — they left here in the heat of summer and travelled across the Desert to Los Angeles, 200 miles and more if I recollect. when they took steamer for San Francisco. Poor Smith (not the one you know in New York) says he never smiled once! - - - his face was all blistered. Oh dear! it is one o'clock at night and I am Officer of the Day, and must go and visit the guard; then I think I shall go to bed.

1/2 part 1 at night.
as I do not feel sleepy I will scribble on whilst in the vein of it. I think I shall call this letter two letters and envelope them separately, and say to to the first, like some of the miscellaneous articles in the Newspapers - - - "To be continued." or "For the remainder of this highly interesting story see" (not) "New York Ledger." of such date, but the next Mail! - - -

One Company of the 4th Regiment of Infantry, Co. E. Capt Judah, arrived at this Post for duty a short time since. Two married ladies Mrs. Judah and Mrs. Dryer (wife of Lieut Dryer) Mrs. J has not yet arrived. I am anxiously looking for, and expecting, a change in the station of my Company this Winter or next spring. the Company has been here going on two Years, and nearly as long as the Companies relieve. At the other Port in this Section of country Fort Mohavé (East of us) there is one Company of my Regiment, and we may be relieved together - - - my company is much reduced now. only some 35 men, but I expect 40 or more Recruits soon. and then I will have work - - - and a new drill to me, which I don't like, as most of the movements are in Quick time, Double Quick time, and Run! - - - I think I see myself at it - - I go in for Scott's Tactics. I despise all the new innovations and Young America's - - and Republicanism - - and Abolitionism too! - - Niggers are Niggers. If Harriet Foote had not gone crazy after them she would have left her money (little enough I suppose) where nature would dictate — though I am sure I was not after it. - - - Money is a good thing, and I wish I had found it out at an earlier day. still I am thankful that I have a little to live on, - - Enough in fact, with Economy to live a great deal better than I do now. but it would be hard for me to give up my position, — 2,000 dollars a year and fuel and Quarters, Medical attendance, &c. still our expenses are great; the prices of some things are awful! — what do You think. I paid 15 cents a pound for Potatoes the other day which is Nine Dollars a Bushel, and Onions here are 25 cents a pound,— 15 dolls. a Bushel, - - - It is a dollar, dollar, dollar, for Everything. Why, if You want change for a dollar You will only get [5/0?] cent pieces — Cents themselves don't exist — I never saw one. If I get mad some day I may resign and go off up into the wilds of Allegheny County, New York, and live quietly on Bread and Butter, Milk and Eggs, not forgetting Trout and strawberries. Thus in quiet and peace I might live many Years, but would I be happy? - - - there's the only important question to solve!

Last winter I was led to purchase (out of my savings) Four Acres of land at Oakland for $1000. It is doubtless good property, but it s strikes me it would have been wiser to have put it out at interest and got 140 a Year for it besides I gave my note for part of the 1000 dollars which cost me 60 dollars more Howver, I paid it up last June, but I am losing the Interest, and though Some Years hence the Property might be valuable, what good would it do me? - - - I suppose I can sell it for what I gave for it. If I was sick I would hold onto it, as it is a Quarter of a (16) Sixteen Acre Tract, well located across the Bay, opposite San Fransisco, where Steamers run regularly. There are Some Oak trees on the Tract,and the land is good for Strawberries, &c. &c. but the private residences of San Francisco people will, after a while, make it valuable. Oakland is within sight of the City, and many San Franciscans live there already - - - Such is my luck! - - - Loss of Interest, say 140 dollars.
Interest paid - - - 1.0 "
Grand total, (dead loss) $200
On serious consideration I don't think my destiny points to great fortune, large speculations or lucky adventures, to astonish the gaping world. I must be meek and humble, and in Fifty Years it is probable it will be all the same. What am I to put on airs, when other mortals, far more worthy, are suffering the pangs of hunger, and the miseries of diseases. Well, on the whole I see clearly how much worse I might be.

Capt. Bootes and family left here some two weeks ago. He has been promoted from a first Lieutenant to a Captaincy, and so has Capt. Ketchum of our Regiment been promoted a major of the 4th Infy. and Lt Col Seawell, of the 8th comes to our Regiment as Colonel, and Major Hoffman of our Regiment goes to the 8th and Capt Bomford of the 8th to our Rgt. as Major - - - all these changes on the death of a Colonel. I missed Capt and family much - - particularly Sam who begins to talk and has a baby sister - - "Well, Sam, how's the Baby?" - - "Baby's good." - - He used to come and see magnificent sunsets here this Fall, more grand than any I ever saw at any time elsewhere. The richness and varied coloring was beyond description.

Well! of all things, what do You think? - - - Why, last Saturday in commenced raining! Sunday, with Some little let ups or inte^r^vals to be sure. Such a thing was never heard of here before. It will make the Grass grow and fatten the Beef.
I have written to Ebenezer's wife Charles Edgerton, and Charles Foote, longtime ago, but have not, to this date, heard from any one of them.
Pray remember me to all, and make my regards to Mrs. Gould. I suppose You have cold weather and snow. Well, I think I have written You a long letter, and it last a long time I am thinking. I shall be satisfied with a short letter from You.
Your Affectionate Brother, RenSselaer.

MiSs C. B. Foote. Del. County N. Y.

P.S - - I forgot to tell You what a great Country this is for mellons - - we had some grand ones, but the Indians don't Know how to cultivate them. My Garden didn't turn out very well. To-night Mr. Doton the Carpenter, has brought me a beautiful Bunch of Radishes, and Says he will have plenty, - - and his onions are all coming up beautifully. R. W. F.


Letter from Charles S. Lovell, [Fort Humboldt,] California to Capt R.W. Foote, Fort Yuma California, February 1861

My Dear Foote,
Your letter of Sept 24 was received in Nov. and, as old John B Allen used to say, I acknowledge "in Shame & ignoranci" that it might to have been answered long ago.

But a great many little things have occurred to prevent it. The good people on the Bay here have been clamorous, or rather the little newspaper at Eureka called the "Humboldt Times", has been, for an overland mail from San Francisco. Within the last two months their wishes have been gratified by the establishment of a weekly overland mail instead of the Semi Monthly, by Steamer. The consequence is that we have no regularity now whatever, and frequently our newspapers are so badly worn out by packing that we cannot read them. —

So much for not letting "well enough" alone. Perhaps it will be better not to get mails in these tremulous times. — Any mail now may bring the news of the total dissolution of the Union; which I suppose must, as a matter of course, disband the army. — In a reorganization some of us, if retained, may find ourselves much lower in rank than at present. Tho' very many of us have been long enough in service to entitle to us to higher grades than we now fill. —

If I am retained, but razeed, I shall at once look about me for something else to make a living at. — Doct. Cravell & wife are now here waiting for the melting of snow to go on to Fort Gaston, Hoopa Valley.— Last accounts report 4 feet on the trail.— I expect you would give a good deal for a foot or two of it at Yuma! I regret to learn from him that your health is not good.— He says you ought not to stay at Yuma another summer! and from your letter I imagine you have no intention of doing so.— He seems to think that Major Cady will be ordered here.— I most sincerely hope he may be if I am to be deprived of the command— But, of course, I would prefer remaining in command myself.— Perhaps however, it may be contemplated at Head Quarters to send my company to Yuma a Mohave a movement which, like Major Hall[er?], I should "absolutely dislike", not so much on my own account as on that of my little family.— Here they are actually comfortable and the climate seems to agree remarkably well with they "young fry".— Bob as been going to School at Eureka, 2/2 miles north of the post, for the last six months and is very attentive to his studies; But he is not near so quick at learning as Arnold altho 5 years older my two little girls grow very fast and are pictures of health— so you see I have very good reason for preferring this post to either Yuma or Mohave.— even if I could have a little larger command by the transfer. Wharton I see has his leave extended ten months— In case of reorganization no doubt he would get increased rank for his arduous campaign of three years in Philadelphia!

Now that Mr. Secretary Floyd has resigned I rather think that Johnson will have to hussle himself back to this count[r]y. Armistead I see has gone to San Diego so I suppose he didn't get married.—

I wonder ^what^ will be done with Col. Andrews? They surely won't keep 3 Field officers at Benicia Bks. with two Cos.!— Wouldn't Yuma be a good post for him? He is fond of solitude, I believe, and he could get plenty of it there!

I suppose you will go to New York this summer and if the Army is disbanded, make your permanent home there.— I shall try to make a living in California and have no doubt that I will succeed if my present good health continues.— Last year I invested about $1600 in a Coal mine and my shares are now said to be worth $8000.— doubtful, I think— tho' no doubt it is worth a great deal more than it cost me,—

Mrs. L. desires to be remembered to you. Remember me kindly to Major Cady and believe me sincerely your friend
Chas. S. Lovell

Letter from Rensselaer Foote, Fort Yuma, Cal. to Don Carlos Buell, Adjt Genl Dept of Pacific, San Francisco, 21 June, 1861


I enclose herewith Surgeon's Certificate for a Sick leave. When the Brig with Supplies shall arrive, I wish to take passage in her to San Francisco, in case my health is more or no better than it is, or expected to be.
I am, Sir, Most Respy
Your obt Servt ResssllFoote Capt 6 Inf U S A

Letter from A.Y. Mecham, Asst. Surgn U.S. Army, "A true Copy"

Captain Rensselear W. Foote of the Sixth Regiment of Infantry, having applied for a certificate on which to Ground an application for leave of Absence, i do hereby certify that I have carefully examined this officer. And fine that, he has been labouring under General debility, resulting from the excessive heat of the climate. This during last Summer and as teh heat of this season becomes more appreciable he Grows more enfeebled.

And that in Consequence thereof, he is in my opinion unfit fro duty, I further declare my belief that he will not be able to resume his duties in a less period than three months. A Change of Climate is recommended

Dated at Fort Yuma Cala this 21st day of June 1861

Letter from Rensselaer Foote, Union Place Hotel to Colonel Washington Seawell?

I respectfully apply for a Sick leave of Absence of Six Months, and forward a copy of
"Special orders, No. 159. Head Qrs. Dept. of the Pacific, San Francisco, Aug 20, 1861." —— giving me Sixty days leave, and permission to apply for an Extension.

I left Fort Yuma, Cal. August 8, 1861, with Sixty days sick leave per "S.O. No. 125, Head Qrs Dept. of the Pacific San Frnasisco, July 12, 1861. Dr Surgeon McCormick gave me at San Francisco, a Sick Certificate which in the hurry I did not read, but he said it was for Six month. He advised me to leave the next day on the Steamer which I did (August 31.) to the neglect of some business — My general health is bad, being in such a hot climate, almost two Years, and I dont know but what my health for active service is entirely ruined.

I was astonished and glad to hear to-day, at Head Quarters that my Regiment is coming to New York. In that case I shall certainly report myself for duty, if I am at all able to do so.

Note from San Francisco, 29 August, 1861, from R.W. Foote to "My dear Sister:"

I drop You only just a line as I have been, and am still Sick. I arrived here on the 23d inst from Fort Yuma, and Shall leave for New York day after tomorrow. I write You this note merely to inform You as I cannot write a long letter. My health is now better, and I hope to be in New York the 1st of October when I will write You at length. I have seen George Johnson, and he seems in better condition.

Yours Sincerely
RenSsWFoote Capt 6th Inf

"Still I was determined not to stay at Fort Yuma longer, as I would have died there shortly," Letter to Catherine B. Foote from R. W. Foote in New York, Union Place Hotel, Concerning his Illness, 1 October, 1861

My dear Sister:
I arrived in New York the 23rd of September last — a week ago, on sick leave, and left Fort Yuma the 8th August, and San Francisco the 31st day of August - - - I did not think of coming East, when I got to San Francisco, but the General asked if I wanted to come East, and the Doctor said I had better do So, and he hurried me off. I am a good deal better, but debilitated and at times quite nervous. I cant walk a great ways without feeling very weak, though people [say?] I will Soon get better. I am not sure of it, as they kept me in that hot climate until I Sometimes think my health is Entirely ruined.

When I arrived here I expected to go into the County Soon and stay there until I get better or worse. Six months or an indefinite time. As I had permission to apply here for that without asking for it. but the day I called here at Head Quarters I leaved that my Regiment, as well as most all of the others were coming East. This at San Francisco I knew nothing of (nor any one else) and so on making my application to Washington I said that I should join my Company if possible, but whether they would let me I cannot tell\, as Col. Scott said he thought they would Send me before a Board (Petition Board) which would be hard for me, as just at this time an hour or two's walk tires me out; still I am an hundred times better as some passengers on the Vessel said. when in San Fransisco, it made me puff like a porpoise to walk up one or two pairs of stairs, still I was determined not to stay at Fort Yuma longer, as I would have died there shortly, though I supposed then my Regiment would stay in that Country for Years. though I was sure my Company would at least be taken away from Fort Yuma in a few months, but those few months would have been death to me, since I left I learn as I said that wonderful news of my Regiment coming to N York, and of course it electrifies me, as it never was here as I know of. I suppose Some people are mean enough to think I got sick because there was civil war, but I come from a quiet and loyal Country where there is no fighting into the hot bed of civil war, and expected as soon as I got better to return to California. Well, well, Such is life! - - - incomprehensible! — Many officers and men died at Fort Yuma whilst I was there, from the climate, much Younger than myself, and I just heard of the death of another here who left Fort Yuma whilst I was there.

At the present time I shall not visit Delhi, being under Medical attendance, and I have many things to attend to which for a man with Rheumatism, a touch of Liver complaint, Piles, and general debility is Some exertion. I got a letter from charles. If it was not for the War I should go Somewhere in the country and stay until I was well again. How all things have changed. It does not seem as though there was any one in this great city I knew. A Mr. Hart came on the Vessel from California. He is a lawyer and sick, More than me. He is some relation of Mrs. Hobbie I forgot what, unless he is a relation of his married a daughter. It seems every one is a General now a days. you recollect Sweeny who came down to the Boat to see me and others off, two Year's ago? - - a Lieutenant then - - he is now a General and in Missouri! — and slightly wounded the other day. One half the officers of my Regiment have gone out! - - the most of them South - - Some by promotion to the North . - - -
I did not intend to write You ^but^ a few lines, and must now close. I came away from San Francisco in such a hurry I did not see about my Land. - - Must attend to it soon. I made up my mind only a few hours before starting. I can't tell now what I shall do. Please remember me to all.
Your Affec. Brother,
RenSs Foote. Capt Inf


“Last letter received from Uncle Rensselear Foote... He was killed during Civil war. He was a Capt. in the regular army.” From R. W. Foote, Washington, D.C., to Catherine Buren Foote and their Family, Delhi, New York, 9 March, 1862

My dear Sister;
I will to-night just drop You a line, and acknowledge the receipt of your two letters, and say that I cannot tell when I shall write again, as it will, or at least may not be convenient to do So often even that is, if I go into the Field which I shall do if I am not ordered back. A great many Regiments are constantly arriving and deposting. I hardly notice them As for news we know nothing of consequence. Of course [___] It has been a beautiful day, and looked and felt like summer. I feel much better. I took a ride out horseback to-day on my own horse. I met an old friend, General Hancock with an Orderly Soldier behind him, riding along. And was glad to see him. He used to belong to our Regiment, and I like him much. I also met the other day at the Depôt Gen. Todd who said he was going out to Missouri by the Cars to the Wars. - - he said he had been here all winter as a Delegate to Congress from Dahcotah Territory. He is a brother in law of Mrs. Lincoln. He used to be a Captain in our Regiment, and Genl. Buckener (the Rebel) was a Lieutenant of our Regiment What a funny World! - - - Well, well, I suppose it is all right - - -

I have written a long letter to Mr. Marvine and he will let You See the letter I suppose. I have Sent him Mr. Marvine, $461.09) Four Hundred and and Sixty-One Dollars and nine cents, (I believe it is) and requested him to let You have at any time, for Your own use, if You wish it, 1 or 200 dollars more or less - - - and if any accident happens to me I want my Property equally divided amoungst my Brothers and Sisters. I shall probably leave here at my boarding House, Mrs. Brents, Delaware Avenue, corner of I think [ ] street, One Trunk and one Bag - - - I don’t know when I shall write again. Remember me to all. Augustus Gould has not called on me lately as I expected he would, and I have no time to call on anyone.

Your Affec. Brother Rensselaer.

  • In pencil on front of letter: “Last letter received from Uncle Rensselear Foote — Your have his Army hat epaulets &c.* He was killed during Civil war. He was a Capt. in the regular army”

"Sorry to hear that You cannot be promoted before You are retired." Letter from C.A. Foote, Delhi, New York, to his brother, R.W., 7 April, 1862

Dear Brother Yours of April 3, as just come to hand. it is very Singular You do not Get any of our letters. Mr Marvine Catherine & Myself have all written to you since You Sent Mr Marvine that money — I have Sent You Several papers also. I will Show Mr Marvine Your letter. and I presume he will send You the money.
I am Sorry to hear that You cannot be promoted before You are retired did You ever ll me an Army Register. I have not recd it if You have.
Catherine is Going to write to You this week. I will Send Your paper to You today.
from Your Brother C. A. Foote
Capt R W. Foote } Washington }

"Some say the Rebels are evacuating Richmond, and others that they will fight. I think they will fight." Letter from R.W. Foote, "Camp Lovell, about 8 miles from Richmond, Va." to his brother, Charles, Delhi, New York, 2 June, 1862

Dear Brother
I take time to drop You a line or two, although I do not feel like writing, and can communicate to You but little news. I received Catherine's letter dated May 26th Yesterday, I was, of course, much pleased to hear from her, and I hope You will show her this letter. If You want news You must look to the papers as I am doing. The weather is warm now, and there is considerable sickness. There has been some seven skirmishing close by us. On Saturday and Sunday there was an awful sight of firing, and the continual thunder of Artillery, with the almost constant roll of musketry was dreadful, as one thought of the killed and wounded, All we know is, that Genl Carey was beaten on the first day with a loss of some 17 pieces of Artillery (so said, at least) The second day we were victorious and drove the Rebels. The loss must have been great, as the firing was awful. We could not see anything as the Camp is surrounded with timber. The distance was only some 4 or 5 miles. The firing of musketry by file was like bunches of fire crackers set off together, and the firing by Company or Battalion was like a crash of large trees falling in the distance — I was not out on Picket duty a few days since, and staid out nearly three days. Our Brigade started out, but rec word they did not need us —— I am acting as a Field Officer now, but have got no home yet. We are expecting every hour to start for Richmond, but of course we do not know when. We wait for the newspapers to tell us that news. Some say the Rebels are evacuating Richmond, and others that they will fight. I think they will fight.
I endure things better than I thought, and if I live may hold out for some time, though my constitution is feeble, and not fit for work done generally by young men. I must close.
We are in the advance for Richmond I believe, and on the main Road when we do leave Camp I expect to stat for Richmond. Remember me to all.
Your Brother RenSselaer

P.S. I wish this horrible war was closed.

  • In pencil: "Probably his last letter"

The Official Record

Order was, however, soon restored and the regiment again place in position, which it continued to hold throughout the balance of the day, exposed at time to a heavy fire from the enemy, from which it only retired when the troops occupying the field to the right and left of it had fallen back at the close of the contest, causing its right flank to be exposed to a severe fire of musketry, which killed and wounded a number of men in the companies on the right of the line.

A list of casualties upon this occasion has already been furnished. Of those men then reported as missing several of the soldiers have since joined their companies. Captain Foote, who was reported among the missing, is, upon a report of a sergeant who saw him shot about the time the regiment began to retire from the field, supposed to have been killed…

The officers present with the regiment in the battle of the 27th ultimo were, Captain T. Hendrickson, commanding the regiment; Lieutenant Sanders, adjutant; Capt. R.W. Foote, acting field officer; Capt. L.C. Bootes, commanding Company G; Capt. B.F. Smith, commanding Company E; Capt. John McCleary, commanding Company H; Capt M. Bryant, commanding Company D; First Lieut. H.A.F. Worth (wounded) commanding Company K; First Lieut. Joseph B. Rife, commanding Company F; who acted with coolness throughout the day. The same officers, except Captain Foote and Lieutenant Worth, were with the regiment in the battle of the 2d instant…

—T. Hendrickson, Captain, Sixth Infantry, Commanding Regiment. Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Hdqrs. Second Brig., Sykes Division, Camp near James River, Va.


The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. The Peninsular Campaign, Va.; Series 1 - Volume 11 (Part II), p. 374: Author: United States. War Dept., John Sheldon Moody, Calvin Duvall Cowles, Frederick Caryton Ainsworth, Robert N. Scott, Henry Martyn Lazelle, George Breckenridge Davis, Leslie J. Perry, Joseph William Kirkley, http://dlxs2.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;q1=foote;rgn=full%20text;idno=waro0013;didno=waro0013;view=image;seq=0376 Retrieved 10 March, 2010.

Capt. R. W. Foote Killed.

We stated last week that Mr. C. A. Foote had gone to Washington to investigate the reported capture of his brother, Capt. Rensselaer W. Foote, by the Rebels. That investigation revealed to Mr. Foote the afflicting intelligence that his brother, instead of being made a prisoner, was killed on the field of battle. Mr. Foote was informed by the Col. of his brother's regiment that one of his Sergeants, (McIntyre) reported that he stood within four feet of Capt. Foote when he was killed. It was at the battle of Gaine's Mills', on the 27th of June, near the close of the action. He saw Capt. Foote throw up his arms and fall dead on his face — The Rebels immediately occupied the ground. He has been reported to the War Department as killed.

Capt. Foote was educated a soldier at West Point. He was a classmate of the now Rebel General, Beauregard. He has been on duty in the Regular Army twenty-four years, having entered as 2d Lieutenant in 1838. He served with great credit all through the Florida War. During the Mexican war he was in charge of a military post on the frontier, in Arkansas.— The exposures and severe duties on the frontier had very much impaired his health, so much so that the authorities at Washington had urged upon him the duty he owed to himself of retiring from the service, offering to retire him on pay. But his noble spirit recoiled at the idea of leaving the service of his country in its hour of peril. After the most urgent solicitations by himself, and his friends at his request, he was permitted to take the field. Right nobly did he lay down his life in the cause that occupied a place so near his heart. None knew him that will not personally mourn his loss; and all will honor his memory for his noble, self-sacrificing bravery and unflinching ardor for his country and its best interests. He was about 47 years.

"it is somewhat dangerous to Go beyond our line — — and the Sec of War thought it was my best course." Letter from Charles A. Foote to Adelia Johnson Foote, and his family, Brown's Hotel, Washington, D.C. 14 July, 1862

My Dear Wife
this is the 10th letter I have written Since I left home. besides I have been constantly on the go day and Night. and I feel Some tired. and my feet is verry Sore. tell your Father I delivered Eds letter and he called on me Yesterday. I Offered to take his Wife to Delhi if she wished to Go — he is to call on me again to day — — the letters I have written to Mr Marvine & Catherine You will See of course. and they will explain what I have been doing — I concluded to telegraph instead of Going myself as it is somewhat dangerous to Go beyond our line — — and the Sec of War thought it was my best course — Mr Seward offered to Get a pass for me —
I am Going to wait here till the war Department Gets an answer. it may take two or three days — Robt Johnson is stoping here at Browns Hotel — — he is Going to try to leave for N. York to night — — tell Pettengill a friend of mine is Going to the Patent Office with me to day — — How do you and Kate Get along are Your well — is she Going to Hobart this week — —
I have not heard from home yet
love to all and Yourself in particular from Your Husband C A Foote

Ed has Just called and Says his can Go to Delhi & wants me to take her — —

  • In pencil: "Charles A. Foote went to find uncle Rensselaer's body". William H. Seward's wife was a second cousin to Charles, Kate, Frances and Rensselaer Foote.


Major-Generals -- George B. McClellan, John C. Fremont, Henry W. Halleck, (Commanding the Army,) and John E. Wool. Rensselaer connected to the 4th Infantry. This is perhaps an error?

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