[NB. Subsequent research has revealed that this letter should be dated around mid-February 1864 which requires a chronological shuffling in the presentation of these letters. Our thanks to Evan Franke for assisting with the research. Note: Franke’s ancestor, Private Eli Tannehill, served in Battery K of the 2nd PaHA.]
Rev. Father Thomas P. Hunt joins the unit, describes change in behavior of Colonel Augustus A. Gibson. This letter was written by William Davis.
[Mrs. Margaret Richards,]
[@ 15 February 1864]
…..Capitol as he was to meet me there.
I am happy to inform you we are not now deprived of worship on the Sabbath. We have now the renowned & logical minister, known as Daddy Hunt for our Chaplain. ♠ He came here about a week ago. He preached to us last Sabbath. He is just the man for the Boys. All felt, both Officers & Men, well pleased with his discourse [which is] plain up & down & right to the point every time. He is always on hand and undoubtedly will do good in keeping the morale of the men from depreciating.
He stays for the present hear at Headquarters with the Colonel. It is a big thing to us to have him around us telling some of his crack jokes. He will soon have his quarters built at or near the Hospital. The old chap appears to be very attentive to the sick. He promises to give us two weekly lectures, subject – Temperance — & other interesting topics. The Colonel & the old fellow are well matched and make a good team together. They are just as sociably as two chums of 50 years acquaintance. I notice a great change in the Colonel since he has been here for he attended meeting on Sunday which speaks well for him. He has not uttered any crooked prayers of late. The Colonel, after supper, use to come in the office & invite the Adjutant & Aide de camp upstairs for a social game of “Euchre.” This is all played out now & instead we see the old Chaplain & Colonel together with their pipes filled chatting & smoking away. Certainly the world moves. Aye, Yes, and the war must be nigh a close.
Well dear Mrs. Richards, I hope you will excuse this hurried written missive & also the number of soldier phrases used to fill up the pages, and make allowance for the Soldier Boy. Remember me kindly to Mrs. Davis (i.e., Jane & the baby), and to all enquiring friends if any there may be, not forgetting Mr. Richards, Nettie, & yourself, with a kind adieu hoping to hear from you when at leisure, trusting this will find you all well & happy. I am very truly your friend, — Old Skunks
When you write, please address:
Sergeant William Davis
Headquarters, 2d Art . P. V.
Fort Bunker Hill
Washington, D. C.
Enclose find pass obtained from a Rebel at the Battle of Bunker Hill A.D. 1864
Good night. It is now very late. My papers are closing on me.
LETTER 17 NOTES
♠ According to the author (Cooling) of the unit history, “after running off” Chaplain John H. Hassler, who resigned on 4 August 1863, the 2nd Pennsylvania “Heavies” were introduced to the Reverend “Father” Thomas Poage Hunt (1794-1876). “The good reverend soon undertook the task and ended Colonel Gibson’s hard swearing and the pair ended the regiment’s turn at hard drinking, neighborhood foraging, and abuse of passes. The unit was turning around and with return of discipline and order, families of the regiment’s men now saw it fit to join their soldiers in the permanent camps.”
The service record for Rev. Hunt indicates that he was with the 8th PA Infantry, the 178th PA Infantry, the 7th PA Reserve Infantry (36 PA Volunteers), and the 2nd PA Heavy Artillery. It is presumed that he joined the 2nd PA Heavy Artillery after the 178th PA Infantry mustered out of service in late July 1863.